Skip to main content

Full text of "Methodism Along The Bayou: A History of Methodism in Houma and Terrebonne Parish."

See other formats


Methodism 
Along the Bayou 


A History of Methodism in 
Houma & Terrebonne Parish 


by Timothy Hebert 




‘TS'-M 










/Aelkodi^m 

Along me Bayou 

A History of Methodism in 
Houma & Terrebonne Parish. 


by Timothy Hebert 


1994 

Timothy Hebert 
First United Methodist Church 
621 Little Bayou Black Drive 
Houma LA 70360 


Printed on acid free paper by 



McDowell Publications 
11129 Pleasant Ridge Rd 
Utica. Ky 42376 


TABLE Of CONTENTS 


Introduction 
CHAPTER 1 

From the Beginnings to the Early 1800 's 1 

CHAPTER 2 

Methodism Moves into Terrebonne Parish 5 

CHAPTER 3 

The Rise and Fall of Terrebonne Methodism 11 

The Methodist Episcopal Church 27 

CHAPTER 4 

Methodism "Returns" to Terrebonne Parish 46 

Wesley House and MacDonell French Mission School 57 
CHAPTER 5 

The Red Brick Church 72 

Dulac Indian Mission 79 

CHAPTER 6 

The Cathedral on the Bayou 96 


Photographs 



















. 





















DEDICATION 


There are many people that I could dedicate this book to ... 
my family - wife and children, parents, grandparents; our pastors; 
prominent church leaders; the early circuit riders. All of these 
have helped to form the Houma Methodist Church and have helped me 
to put together this history. So, in general, this history is 
dedicated to all of the above. If I had to pick one person, I 
guess I would like to dedicate it to my grandfather, Hayes Marcel, 
Sr. He wasn't a big leader or a big financial contributor; but he 
was there . . . serving his church and his God for over 50 years with 
his presence, his prayers, his service, and his stewardship. When 
he passed away, I remember my grandmother saying to us that she 
hoped that we would grow up to be like my grandfather. Today I 
still use his life as a measuring stick ... to try to be as good a 
Christian as my grandfather. So, to my grandfather and to all of 
the simple people like him who have made up our Methodist Church, 
I would like to dedicate this history of Methodism in Houma and 
Terrebonne Parish. 


Timothy Hebert 



INTRODUCTION 


I have organized the book according to the history of the 
First United Methodist Church of Houma, since it has been the 
largest faction of Methodism in the area. From 1842 to 1909, the 
material has been organized by year. From 1909 to the present, the 
material is separated by pastors of First Church. Three special 
sections have been separated and put under a separate heading; 
these are listed in the table of contents. 

You may notice that I have more information on the first 
thirty years of the 20th century than on the most recent thirty 
years. I tried to concentrate on researching the first hundred 
years of our history, since much of it was a mystery. I could have 
included much more on the last thirty years. For the next 
anniversary. I'll try to cover it more thoroughly. 

I also would have liked to have more details on the people . . . 
preachers like Lewis Reed and Robert Martin, and the lay people. 
I have mentioned just a few of members of the congregation in the 
text. Most of them were involved in the first half of this 
century. Needless to say, the history of our church involves 
thousands of lay persons who have contributed in some way. Again, 
if you find some obvious oversight, please let me know so that we 
can add it to the next edition of our history. 

I wanted to thank everyone who helped on this project by name, 
but the list became quite long. Besides, there are so many people 
to thank, .1 might accidentally leave someone out. So, let me just 
thank everyone . . . pastors, members of the congregation, and 
everyone who assisted me in some way. 

This project began about three years ago. I had come across 
some early references to the Methodist Church while researching at 
the courthouse. After mentioning it to Rev. Bowdon, I decided to 
look into our history. The longest "history" story on our church 
was a short (two page) piece written by Ella Hooper over fifty 
years ago. Almost nothing was known of the early history of the 
church. The first hundred years was covered by about four 
sentences. I figured that there must be more to the story than 
that . 

After looking through the courthouse records, I then turned to 
the church records. I was referred to several shoeboxes that were 
scattered around the church. After talking to a couple of the 
older members of the church, it became clear that I would have to 
look elsewhere for information from our first hundred years. Rev. 
Bowdon managed to find the funds to help me to go to the Conference 
Archives in Shreveport. 


It was a little disappointing, at first, when I asked to look 
at material from Houma/ Terrebonne. Their books and catalogs had 
virtually no mention of the area. But I did find the two greatest 
sources of early material: the Conference Journals and the New 
Orleans Christian Advocate . I would visit the Archives twice, more 
over the next two years to look for material. It takes quite a 
while to look through over 4000 newspapers on microfilm, 100 years 
of Conference Journals, and boxes of other miscellaneous materials. 

As for documentation and references, you will notice there are 
none. I will be depositing my notes and sources at the First 
United Methodist Church of Houma and the Archives at Shreveport. 
If you have a question as to the source of any piece of 
information, you can contact me about it. Most of the material 
from the first hundred years was obtained from Conference Journals 
and the Advocate . Most of the material from the last fifty years 
was obtained from personal interviews. 

After I returned, I started scheduling interviews. Although 
no one could remember everything, I managed to piece together a 
history by combining everyone's memories. I tried to contact 
others . . . former pastors, people from other Methodist Churches, 
older people in the community ... with mixed results. There are 
several areas that I would have liked to have covered more 
thoroughly, especially the histories of the smaller Methodist 
Churches in the area. Whenever there is an obvious gap or 
exclusion, it is because the information wasn't available or no one 
provided me with the information. If you find that you know 
something that was left out or is incorrect, please let me know. 


Timothy Hebert 


CHAPTER 1 


FROM THE BEGINNING TO THE EARLY 1800'S 


Beginnings of Methodism 


The Methodist Church began in the same manner as did 
Christianity. A religious leader was calling for people to turn to 
Christ. The leader didn't intend to start a new religion, but the 
converts felt that they were too different after their conversion 
to remain under the same religious classification. 

Jesus was a faithful Jew all of His life. He wanted the other 
Jews to follow Him and His teachings. He did not call them to 
leave the Jewish faith. John Wesley took the same path. He was an 
Anglican preacher who remained in that faith all his life. But 
when his followers were converted, they too felt that their "old" 
religion was wrong for them. Just as the first century followers 
of Christ became Christians, those who were moved by John Wesley 
and his theology became Methodists. 

John Wesley became an Anglican minister in 1728, at the age of 
twenty-five. But when his heart was "strangely warmed" in 1738, he 
began preaching with a new conviction . . . the conviction of a saved 
sinner. His sermons were simple messages aimed at the "common 
man." He would seek out the people and preach to them, instead of 
waiting for them to come to church. His style and message resulted 
in a rapid growth of followers who accepted Christ. But, it also 
resulted in rapid disapproval from his superiors. Nevertheless, 
Wesley continued to preach his message. When he died in 1788, 
there were over 125,000 people calling themselves Methodists in 
England. 

In 1741, Wesley organized a system of "circuit riders." This 
system would later find its way to America. These itinerant 
preachers would be assigned an area to cover. This area was 
sometimes spread out over hundreds of square miles. They would 
travel from community to community. A community would be lucky to 
get the preacher to visit them once a month. 

Having visited America some years earlier, Wesley realized the 
need to reach its people. Early missionaries were sent to America 
in the 1760 's and Methodist societies began forming. Even though 
Wesley supported England in the Revolutionary War, the American 
Methodists (led by Francis Asbury) had tripled their membership by 
the time the war had ended. By 1784, there were 15,000 American 
Methodists. 

In 1784, Wesley began ordaining ministers to go to the United 
States. The Methodist Episcopal Church was formed in Baltimore, 
Maryland on December 24, 1784. Its leaders were Francis Asbury and 
Thomas Coke. They adopted the same circuit rider system that 
Wesley used in England. This was ideally suited for the United 


1 


States . Most of the population was rural . Towns and churches 
might be miles away. The circuit rider arrangement enabled the 
church to reach out to the people. The simple message of the 
gospel brought to people where they were enabled the Methodist 
movement to grow rapidly. As the United States grew, so did the 
outreach of the Methodist ministers. They often arrived in new 
territory not long after the settlers moved in. 

The Methodist Church hasn't always been one big happy family. 
The 19th century brought a number of splits in the Methodist 
membership. In 1816, a number of black Methodists formed their own 
church, the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Six years later, 
another coolition of black Methodists formed the African Methodist 
Episcopal Zion Church. In the 1820's, the Methodist Protestant 
Church was formed because some Methodists wanted the lay people to 
have a bigger role in governing the church. In 1843, the issue of 
slavery caused some Methodists to withdraw and form the Wesleyan 
Methodist Church. A large split occured in 1845, when the main 
branch of Methodism divided into the Methodist Episcopal Church 
(North) and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Although the 
split was basically caused by the issue of slavery, their basic 
doctrine and policies remained the same. The last major split 
occurred shortly after the Civil War, in 1870, when a large number 
of the black Methodists in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South 
formed the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church. They later (1954) 
changed it to the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. 

If the 19th century was the time of division, then the 20th 
century became the time of union. Discussions of union had been 
around for a while, especially between the two largest groups . . . 
the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church, 
South. After all, a major issue of their division, slavery, no 
longer existed. Finally, in 1939, the Methodist Protestant, the 
Methodist Episcopal, and the Methodist Episcopal, South Churches 
merged to form the Methodist Church. 

The last union came on April 23, 1968, when the Methodist 
Church joined with the Evangelical United Brethren Church to form 
the United Methodist Church. The two churches had always shared 
the same doctrine and theology, but had been separated by language. 
The Evangelical United Brethren had their roots in German instead 
of English. But by now, both groups used English. 

By 1990, there were over sixteen million members in the forty 
branches of the Methodist faith around the world. 


2 


Beginnings of Terrebonne Parish 


The history of people in Terrebonne Parish actually goes back 
thousands of years. The first visitors to this land. Native 
Americans who roamed the continent, made their way into south 
Louisiana. The only evidence of their existence today is the 
earthen mounds and artifacts they left behind. The first "modern 
day" visitors to Louisiana were the early European explorers. 

In 1682, LaSalle took possession of the Louisiana territory 
for France. Later, Bienville came to bring settlers. In 1718, his 
settlers began work on the town that would become New Orleans. 
Shortly after this, in 1721, a group of settlers from Germany 
located in St. Charles and St. James Parishes. This was called the 
German coast. More French settlers would arrive sporadically for 
years to come. By 1744, there were 3,000 people in south 
Louisiana, though the Terrebonne Parish area was still virtually 
noninhabited . 

In 1762, France transferred the Louisiana territory to Spain. 
The Spanish government had a policy of giving land grants to 
individuals who would settle this pioneer territory. The first 
major group to take advantage of this was the Acadians. From 1765 
to 1785, 3,000 of the Acadians who had been exiled from Canada 
arrived in south Louisiana . . . their New Acadia. The Acadian 
culture would overshadow the other nationalities of the region. 
Even today, south Louisiana is known as Acadiana. 

In the late 1770 's, a number of Spanish settlers came from the 
Canary Islands. Also, the slave rebellions in Santo Domingo drove 
thousands of people to Louisiana. 

The Acadian, French, and Spanish settlers first settled along 
Bayou Lafourche. It wasn't until the end of the 18th century that 
they began to move along the bayous into Terrebonne Parish. 

The Houmas Indians moved into Terrebonne Parish during the 
last quarter of the 18th century. They had originally lived in the 
Feliciana parishes. They moved down to the Bayou St. John area in 
the early 1700' s. Due to conficts in the tribes, they eventually 
moved south and formed six settlements in Terrebonne Parish. The 
major concentration of Indians settled in the community of Dulac. 

It is important to note that for the first one hundred years 
of settlers in Louisiana, the territory was controlled by either 
France or Spain. Both of these countries have Roman Catholicism as 
the state religion. The citizens had to be Catholic. Even after 
the United States took control, the Catholic influence remained 
strong. It would be over one hundred more years before Protestants 
would show any significant growth in south Louisiana. Roman 
Catholics still outnumber Protestants in Terrebonne and Lafourche 
Parishes . 

In 1803, France once again took control of Louisiana and soon 
sold it to the United States. The first English settlers began to 


3 


move into Louisiana. The year 1812, when Louisiana became a state, 
brought an influx of settlers . . . English, Irish, Scottish, and so 
on . . . from the American states. With these settlers came the 
Protestant ministers. The three major Protestant denominations at 
this time were Methodist, Baptist, and Presbyterian. 

By 1850, it was clear that the United States was a Protestant 
nation. Of the over 34,000 churches in America, 13,280 were 
Methodist, 9,375 were Baptist, 4,824 were Presbyterian, 1,706 were 
Congregational, and 1,459 were Episcopal. There were only 1,221 
Roman Catholic churches. In the middle of the largely Protestant 
United States stood south Louisiana. Here, the situation was 
reversed. It was still as strongly Catholic as the rest of the 
country was Protestant. 

There were several small settlements in Terrebonne Parish that 
had sprung up along the various waterways. Houma, at this time, 
was still a small town. It was founded in 1834 and incorporated in 
1848. When the first church was built in the 1840 's, the 
population was 200-300. Fifty years later, the population had only 
grown to about 1,200. Thibodaux was much bigger in the early days. 
As the seafood, sugar cane, and lumber business picked up in 
Terrebonne Parish, Houma outgrew Thibodaux. In the 20th century, 
with the discovery of oil, Houma's population increased to several 
times that of Thibodaux. The current population of Houma and its 
suburbs is over 50,000. 

The Roman Catholic religion still holds a lot of clout in the 
area. Almost 50% of families that claim a denomination are Roman 
Catholic. In Terrebonne Parish, only 1.8% of families are United 
Methodist. The figures are similar for neighboring Lafourche 
Parish. Of the Protestant religions, the Baptist Church has 
experienced the most growth in the area during the past 75 years. 


4 


CHAPTER 2 


METHODISM MOVES INTO TERREBONNE PARISH 


Almost 100% of the population of early south Louisiana was 
Roman Catholic. But many weren't devout in their faith. Since 
Catholicism was the only religion in town, one had to be Catholic 
if you wanted a minister for births, deaths, and marriages. Just 
a few years before, in 1795, the Spanish governor Estevan Miro 
declared that "no preacher of any religion but the Catholic" may 
come into the province. The Catholic priests even warned early 
Protestant ministers not to preach here. Even Wesley himself noted 
in 1758, while visiting Ireland, that the Catholics would like to 
"cut the throats of all Protestants." The Protestants were viewed 
as pagans by the Catholics. 

Since the early Methodists preachers were usually uneducated 
men who breezed through town with only the clothes on their backs, 
the people found it hard to place their trust in them. After all, 
the Catholic priests were educated men who would stay for several 
years at a time and would build impressive church buildings. 
Methodist preachers could not stay on the same circuit for more 
that two years; and congregations were lucky if the preacher could 
make it to their area once a month. It would be years before any 
significant numbers of Methodist churches would be built. The 
native Catholics were hesitant about turning their faith over to a 
religion that didn't even have a church in the area. This feeling 
would continue to hamper the Protestant movement in the area 
throughout the 19th century. 

Methodism first entered Louisiana through Tobias Gibson, who 
had been appointed to the Natchez circuit in 1799. He probably 
ventured into what is now northeast Louisiana, but no significant 
preaching was done there. In 1802, this Natchez circuit was 
included in the Western Conference. 

The Methodist Church did not waste much time after Louisiana 
was purchased by the United States in 1803. The first recorded 
Methodist preaching in Louisiana was by Lorenzo Dow in 1804. But 
nothing came of it. Later in 1804, Learner Blackman was appointed 
to the Natchez Circuit. Dow reported to Blackman of the need to 
send someone to Louisiana. So, Blackman was the first regular 
circuit rider to venture into Louisiana. 

In 1805, Blackman asked for a preacher to be sent to New 
Orleans. Elisha W. Bowman was sent by the bishop to cover the 
Opelousas Circuit (which covered all of southern Louisiana). 
Blackman suggested that he start in New Orleans. The Western 
Conference paid his way ($100). So, Bowman left in 1805, went down 
through Natchez, and down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. He 
arrived on December 1, 1805. The Governor promised he could use 
the State House to preach in, but it was locked on Sunday. So he 
preached on the street, to the constant jeering of the townfolk. 


5 


When this happened again the next Sunday, Bowman decided to move 
on. On December 17, he said "I shook off the dirt from my feet 
against this ungodly city of Orleans." 

His rejection could be due to the fact that an apostate 
Methodist preacher who was recently in the city gave Methodists a 
bad name. Also, fifty-five Protestants had recently met in New 
Orleans to decide what kind of minister to invite. Since forty- 
seven of them voted to invite an Episcopalian, Rev. Bowman's 
arrival may have even been rejected by the Protestants in the town. 

Leaving New Orleans, he rode fifty miles up the Mississippi 
River. Then he followed Bayou Lafourche southward for fifty miles. 
Crossing swampy terrain for fifteen miles, he came upon a 
settlement of Spanish people on the shores of a large lake. He 
secured two canoes, built a platform on them for his horse, and 
hired two Spaniards to row him to the mouth of the Bayou Teche. He 
rode eighty miles up the Teche and finally reached Opelousas. The 
church he founded there was known as the "mother church" for 
Methodism in Louisiana. That first year, he accepted seventeen 
members into the church. 

It was not easy going for the Louisiana circuit riders. When 
Blackman later visited Bowman, he commented that the area was the 
worst in the continent for the itinerant preacher. The circuit 
riders would continue to find the land and the people hard to 
handle. 

In 1809, Benjamin Edge was appointed to the Opelousas circuit. 
This circuit was at that time in the Mississippi District of the 
Western Conference. This was the only circuit in southern 
Louisiana. The preacher attempted to preach in New Orleans, but 
nothing came of it. North Louisiana had a number of circuits that 
developed more over the years . They were not under the Catholic 
influence that south Louisiana was under. Rev. Edge was followed 
in 1810 by John Henninger. By 1810, there were forty-three 
Methodists in the New Orleans territory. 

The circuit was renamed the Attakapas circuit when William 
Winans was appointed in 1811. Though the circuit was supposed to 
cover south Louisiana, Rev. Winans probably never ventured further 
west than New Orleans during this appointment. His income from 
this position was thirty dollars. Rev. Winans found only three 
Methodists in New Orleans, which had a population of five thousand 
at that time. One of these Methodists, a German named Jacob Knobb, 
gave him a place to stay. Rev. Winans rented a downstairs front 
room where he taught school and held church services. This was 
located on Bienville between Chartres and Royal. His efforts at 
this time yielded few results. He found that the people of 
Louisiana "were more concerned with amusements and parties." By 
the year's end, he had fewer than twelve members. In 1812, south 
Louisiana was divided into two circuits. John S. Ford took over 
the Attakapas. New Orleans got its own preacher. Miles Harper. 

In 1813, the Louisiana District was formed. It was under the 
Tennessee Conference. The only preacher appointed in south 
Louisiana was John S. Ford (Attakapas circuit). Of the ninety-nine 
(eighty-nine whites and ten black) Louisiana Methodists at this 


6 


time, sixty- five of them were on the Attakapas circuit. Richmond 
Nolley was appointed to the circuit the following year. He lived 
the typically hard life of the circuit rider. He once was saved by 
a Negro woman (armed with a hoe) from a group of ruffians who tried 
to pull him out of the pulpit. Black families would turn out to be 
some of the most faithful members of the early Methodist Church. 
Eventually, Nolley died in the field while travelling through the 
Attakapas. He was only thirty years old. 

It is uncertain whether the Terrebonne Parish area was 
considered as part of the Attakapas circuit or part of the New 
Orleans circuit. The Attakapas circuit received a preacher each 
year. New Orleans, however, received preachers sporadically over 
the next decade. Sometimes, a "missionary" was sent to the area 
from another conference. Pastors appointed to the New Orleans 
circuit were referred to as missionaries. 

For example. Rev. Lewis Hobbs was sent to New Orleans by the 
South Carolina Conference shortly after the Louisiana District was 
formed. He would preach to the prisoners in jail on Sunday 
mornings and then hold three services in a rented house. It was 
said that his sermons were short, only thirty to forty minutes 
long. Although he had a weak body, he was an eloquent speaker who 
spoke from the heart. His job was not an easy one. The Catholic 
church consistantly tried to stop his preaching. He lasted about 
a year before returning to the East . 

Some of the other preachers appointed to New Orleans were Mark 
Moore (1819), John Mani fee (1820), Daniel Hall (1824), and Benjamin 
Drake (1825-26). Needless to say, they only preached to the 
English-speaking population of Louisiana. The French had yet to 
hear the Methodist message. 

In 1819, the Missionary and Bible Society of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church was organized in New York. Its major goal was to 
reach the home mission field. One of the major factors in 
organizing the society was the need for missionary work among the 
French population. Francis Asbury, writing to Joseph Benson in 
1816, notes that "... upon this continent we are crowded with 
French people ... we want French Methodist preachers." In May, 
1819, the New York District appointed the Society's first 
missionary. Dr. William Phoebus was appointed as missionary to the 
French in Louisiana. Unfortunately, they could not raise the 
necessary funds to send him and his family to New Orleans. 

A few months later, the New York Conference appointed Ebenezer 
Brown as missionary to Louisiana. After raising money for a horse 
and travelling expenses, he was sent to "preach to the French 
inhabitants of Louisiana," as the 1820 Conference Minutes noted. 
Though he made it to New Orleans, Rev. Brown failed to gain access 
to the French population. He spent his time assisting John Manifee 
in preaching to an English congregation until his return to New 
York in 1821. The first attempt at reaching the French population 
of Louisiana had resulted in failure. It would be years before the 
French home mission field in Louisiana would receive another 
French-speaking missionary. 


7 


It was under the tenure of Rev. Drake that the numbers of 
Methodists began to show any real increase. The circuit was now 
referred to as the New Orleans Mission. Rev. Drake himself stated 
that "New Orleans presents a more unyielding resistance to the 
evangelical gospel ... than any other city in the South." Though 
he would have his work cut out for him. Rev. Drake firmly planted 
Methodism in New Orleans. 

While these ministers were appointed to New Orleans, they 
probably ventured into the parishes west of Orleans. In 1823, for 
example. Rev. Drake and a Mr. Devinne visited New Iberia. It had 
been visited by an earlier preacher, because Rev. Drake stated that 
the hall used previously for preaching was not available. Not 
finding a room to use, the men prepared to leave. But they noticed 
an attractive ship on the Bayou Teche. Upon investigating the 
ship, they found that the crew was Methodist. The captain invited 
the preachers to hold services on the ship. This was not to be, 
since someone stepped up and offered the home of his son-in-law (a 
Mr. French) as a meeting place. The next spring. Rev. Drake 
returned and held a revival. Nine or ten people were converted. 
Several members of the French family and a man named Marinie Prince 
were among the converts. Their descendants would later form the 
nucleus of the French Mission many years later. 

Rev. Drake was succeeded in 1827 by Peyton S. Greaves and in 
1828 by William M. Curtiss. The New Orleans mission was moved from 
the Mississippi District to the Washington District. There were 
618 white and 316 black Methodists in Louisiana by the end of 1828. 
It is possible that a Methodist preacher might have brought the 
first Methodist meeting into the Terrebonne -Lafourche area at this 
time. 


The early church meetings led by the circuit riders usually 
consisted of camp meetings and revivals. After churches were 
established and pastors assigned to them, these meetings were 
usually led by visiting preachers. These services were held in 
churches (if one existed), private homes, rented rooms, and 
outdoors . . . depending upon the size of the group. Sometimes 
churches of other Protestant denominations were used. 

Camp meetings would last for seven to ten days. They were 
gatherings of the people from a limited area at a central place 
where they could camp and attend the services . Services were held 
morning, afternoon, and night. 

Revivals were held where a church already existed. Services 
were held in the morning and at night. The style of the message 
varied with the preacher. Some used persuasion. Some shed tears. 
Some used the old fire and brimstone approach. 

A typical sermon would be evangelistic. Those in attendance 
were urged to accept Christ as Lord and Savior. It might also 
throw in a bit of doctrine; many sermons were aimed at the 
Catholics and Baptists. Most sermons, however, were aimed at 
winning converts, not at nurturing the committed. Since a typical 


8 


circuit had eight to twelve stops, the preacher could not stay in 
any one place for too long. It was left to the lay people in the 
congregation to keep up the church while the preacher was gone. 
Because of this, communion was often neglected. The lay people 
couldn't serve communion; and when the preacher was in town, he 
concentrated on soul-winning. 

The typical service might have consisted of a song, the 
sermon, and a closing song ... altogether lasting about an hour. 
John Wesley himself told his circuit riders to preach this way. 
There are not too many preachers who could hold an audience ' s 
attention for hours at a time, as Wesley could. Of course, 
revivals and camp meetings consisted of numerous services of this 
type. Singing was popular; though they usually only sang the hymns 
that they knew by heart. 

It was not uncommon for people to shout out in a service. In 
fact, an article in the New Orleans Christian Advocate said that 
"out loud AMEN's were encouraged." 

The typical Methodist preacher of this time was young and 
uneducated. This contrasted with the older, educated priest of the 
Catholic church. The Methodist circuit rider often came from 
another state. So they were speaking to a strange people in a 
strange land. Since they were speaking to a largely uneducated 
population, their common-sense message was appealing. They were 
doing as John Wesley had done . . . speaking to the people in 
everyday language. Of course, since many of the people spoke only 
French, it would be many years before they were exposed to 
Methodism. 

Despite their faults, the Methodist circuit rider had one 
basic characteristic ... they had a desire to spread the gospel. 
It is obvious that they didn't do it for the money. The annual pay 
was usually less than fifty dollars. The Methodist preacher was 
usually one of the poorest men in town, financially at least. They 
would often have to supplement their pay with other jobs. A 
parsonage was unheard of in the early days. The preacher would 
stay in someone's home. 

Their dress was considered standard in its day. The 
older preachers still wore short pants and stockings, knee buckles, 
and a round-breasted coat with tails. The "newer" preachers were 
now wearing a frock coat. 

It was in 1828 that the Lafourche Mission first appears in the 
Methodist records. You will note that here, and elsewhere, the 
term Lafourche often refers to the area south of Donaldsonville, 
including Terrebonne Parish. Since waterways were more important 
than roads back then. Bayou Lafourche was the principle passageway 
into Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes. Also, Terrebonne was a 
"young" parish, having been formed in 1822 from part of Lafourche 
Parish. So Lafourche is used to describe the area, rather than a 
specific parish. When you read "Lafourche, " keep in mind that 
Terrebonne Parish may be included. 

The Lafourche Mission is listed as "to be supplied" in 1828 


9 


and 1829. This meant that they would appoint a preacher to the 
circuit when they could find someone to fill the position. In Rev. 
John G. Jones' A Complete History of Methodism , the author mentions 
that the Bayou Lafourche area was "rapidly being settled by an 
English-speaking population. A new circuit was projected in that 
region, but for the want of a preacher was on the unsupplied list 
this year ( 1929 ) . " 

They recognized the need for a preacher in the area, but 
either there were not enough preachers to fill all of the 
appointments or no available preacher wanted to venture into the 
strongly Catholic land of the "Cajuns." It might have been a 
little of both. Presiding elder O.L. Nash said in an 1834 article 
to the New York Christian Advocate that most missions in Louisiana 
were unsupplied. After two years on the "to be supplied" list, the 
Lafourche Mission was dropped from the appointment list in 1830. 
It is not even mentioned in 1831. 

In 1832, the New Orleans District was formed. Barnabas Pipkin 
was the presiding elder. The Lafourche Mission finally appears 
with an appointed preacher . . . Ben j amin T . Coxe . The membership of 
the area was 20 whites and 20 blacks. The first Protestant 
sacraments were administered in the area that year by the presiding 
elder. Rev. William Winans, at the courthouse in Thibodaux. These 
first communicants were Julia A. Perkins, Mrs. Fickland, and Mrs. 
Gov. Johnson. 

In Rev. R.J. Harp's church journal, it is mentioned that there 
had been no Protestant preaching in the area (Lafourche Circuit) 
prior to 1832. Rev. Coxe was probably the first Methodist minister 
to preach in Terrebonne Parish. He probably preached at Bayou 
Cane, since that is where the courthouse was located. Houma didn't 
even exist yet. When a church wasn't available, services were 
often held at courthouses or courtyards. The courthouse had been 
built in 1822 in Bayou Cane. The site is presently occupied by a 
gas station near the Southland Mall. Rev. Coxe served for one year 
and was replaced in 1833 by Daniel Sears. 

Rev. Sears was then replaced by E.N. Talley, who served the 
Lafourche Mission from 1834 to 1835. The small town of Houma was 
founded in 1834. A new courthouse was built on the site of our 
present courthouse. Services were probably held there, as well as 
at some northern parts of the parish. Talley was moved to 
Wilkinson in 1836, and the Lafourche Mission was left to be 
supplied in 1837. In 1838, it was again dropped from the J list of 
appointments . 


10 


CHAPTER 3 


THE RISE AND FALL OF TERREBONNE METHODISM 


1842 

Finally, in 1842 another pastor was appointed to the area. In 
that year, John Powell was sent to the Lafourche Mission. He had 
spent the last few years on the Franklin/Newtown circuit, just west 
of Terrebonne Parish. Newtown was an old name for New Iberia. It 
is quite possible that he had ventured into Terrebonne Parish at 
some time during his Franklin/Newtown appointment. 

Lafourche was now in the Natchez District. Rev. Harp's church 
journal ... which you'll hear more about later ... notes that the 
Lafourche Circuit extended from Donaldsonville to Berwick Bay. The 
stops have included Donaldsonville, Napoleonville, Labadieville, 
Thibodaux, Houma, Gibson, and Berwick. Rev. Powell is probably the 
first Methodist minister to make regular stops in Terrebonne 
Parish. 

Meanwhile, Father Menard was ordained and became the Catholic 
priest in Thibodaux. He made his way into Houma, conducting 
services in the courthouse from time to time. He said that Houma 
consisted of about twenty homes along the bayou. He noted that the 
people were "ignorant of the principal truths of religion." Later, 
in 1844, he suggested that a Catholic church be built in Houma. 

1843 

In 1843 the Lafourche circuit became part of the New Orleans 
District, where William Winans was the presiding elder. That year, 
both John Powell and Philo M. Goodwyn were appointed to the 
Lafourche circuit. Rev. Goodwyn, who was only twenty- three at the 
time, would later return to the area in the 1860's. It is noted in 
Rev. Harp's journal that funds were being raised towards the 
building of a church in Thibodaux ( and probably in Houma as well ) . 
Rev. Powell, the elder of the two ministers, was probably the 
impetus behind the building of the church. 

1844 

In 1844, Henry B. Price and Stephen J. Davies were appointed 
to the Lafourche Mission, as it was now called. These were 
probably the preachers who encouraged the Houma Methodists to work 
on building their own church. 

Rev. Price was from Morehouse Parish. Later, in 1855, he 

married Miss C.A. Kidd in Union Parish. 

Rev. Davies came from Cardiganshire, Wales. He was born 

in 1816 and passed away in 1864. He was buried in St. Mary 


11 


Parish. He had a son, Stephen Davies, Jr., who became a 
prominent Methodist minister. It was said that Rev. Davies 
was "one of the most eloquent, powerful and successful 
preachers of modern times . " 

This year also saw the transfer of Charles P. Clark from the 
New York to the Mississippi Conference. He had learned fluent 
French so that he could preach to the French population of 
Louisiana. But, because of the turmoil concerning the separation 
of the Methodist Episcopal Church into northern and southern 
factions, he left the denomination and joined the Protestant 
Episcopal Church. The French of south Louisiana would have to wait 
for over thirty years before hearing the Gospel in their tongue. 

1845 

In 1845, Rev. Price was reappointed to the Lafourche Mission 
and Rev. W.W. Jenkins took Rev. Davies' place. It is in this year 
that the first church of any denomination in Terrebonne Parish was 
begun. Up to this time, religious services were held in the 
courthouse. On January 14, 1845, the Methodist Episcopal Church of 
the United States bought a lot from Richard H. Grinage for $200. 
It was located on the southeast corner of the intersection of South 
Street and Terrebonne Street. These streets are known today as 
Goode Street and Belanger Street. Some of the residents who made 
up this first church were: Dr. William F. Robinson, Dr. John Wesley 
Danks, John Watson, Van Winder, Joseph Semple, James Cage, and 
Samuel Clifton. The church was built shortly after. Funds to 
build the church came not only from the Methodists, but also from 
Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and non-Protestants. Since it would 
be over ten years before the other Protestant religions built their 
own churches, they were allowed to use the Methodists' church when 
it was free. 

It is interesting to note that the first church in this 
predominantly Catholic Terrebonne Parish was a Methodist church. 
Although the Acadians, Spanish, and French had always been 
Catholic, they had been without a church and priest since they came 
to the Louisiana territory. They had to rely on priests visiting 
from other parishes to perform church rituals. The Terrebonne 
Catholics were served by St. Joseph's Church in Thibodaux, which 
had been formed in 1817. Father Menard of St. Joseph's had 
recognized the need for a church in Houma. In 1847, Father Z. 
Leveque was assigned to organize the Catholic Parish of St. Francis 
de Sales of Houma. The early services by Father Leveque were held 
in the courthouse (at 9:30 on Sundays ) and in private homes . He 
described the Cajuns as "good-natured, kind, hospitable, and 
anxious to learn." 

A subscription list to build the Catholic church was 
circulated in 1847. Every Catholic was asked to pledge $10 ... $5 
to be paid in 1848 and $5 in 1849. The church was to cost $2050. 
The church was begun in 1848. Father Leveque left in April 1848 


12 


for France. No one knows what became of him. Father E. Barthe 
came to finish the church and stayed until 1852. The next priest 
stayed only one month and left. Due to priest turnover and 
financial problems, the Catholic church was still under 
construction in 1853. When finished, the brick structure was 47' 
by 90' and could hold forty families. 

Though Episcopal and Presbyterian ministers had visited the 
area since the late 1830 's, the first Protestant church in the area 
wasn't built until the 1840 's. St. John's Episcopal Church of 
Thibodaux was begun in 1844 and was completed in 1845. It still 
stands on Jackson Street in Thibodaux. The original church was a 
rather plain looking building, since the steeple was not added 
until ten years later. The driving force behind the Episcopal 
Church was George Guion (who donated the land) and Rev. Leonidas 
Polk. It had twenty-four members the first year, fourteen of whom 
were black. The Episcopals and Presbyterians in Terrebonne Parish 
didn't build their own churches until the mid to late 1850 's. They 
used the Methodist church and/or the courthouse. 

Of course, the Methodist churches did not look anything like 
the Catholic churches. Rev. Harper, in his book In the Land of New 
Acadie, says that "Catholics built churches that looked like 
churches. Methodist churches might look like a barn, a town hall, 
or a Greek temple. They have rough, homemade seats (pews) and an 
assortment of chairs. Sometimes there is a piano or organ, though 
not in good shape. It wasn't very appealing to the Catholics who 
were used to their grand cathedrals. Most French Mission churches 
were like this." 

This was the general style of Protestant churches at the time. 
They were usually 36' by 57', give or take a few feet. They were 
built up on brick posts. They had a high-pitched saddle-back roof 
covered with shingles. A stove was often placed in the middle of 
the room for heat. Besides pews and chairs, the only other piece 
of furniture was the pulpit and lectern. There were about five 
windows on each side of the church, but usually none on the facade. 
If any had stained glass windows, there would never appear images 
of Christ or Biblical people/things. The only "Catholic" feature 
sometimes found would be a small tower topped by a steeple. If you 
visit the church in Gibson, you will see an example of an early 
Methodist church. It is quite simple. The Protestants 
intentionally tried to stay away from the Catholic style of church 
architecture . 

Although there are no surviving photographs or sketches of 
Houma's original Methodist church, we can piece together an image 
of the building based on old maps and newspaper articles. The 
church was a wood-framed structure about 42' by 57' . This included 
an 8' gallery (porch) in the front, supported by six columns. 
There were probably four to five shuttered windows on each side, 
but none in the front or back. Although it could have been 
unpainted, it may have been painted white since it was a church. 
Whitewashed walls with green windows was a popular color scheme for 
churches back then. It was probably set on blocks, as most 


13 


buildings were at that time. The only "liberty" taken in the 
sketch we have done is the steeple. The Gibson church (which is 
still standing) had no steeple. The Thibodaux church had a large 
50' tall steeple. Since the size of the Houma church was in- 
between these two churches, it is not improbable to assume that it 
had a small steeple. Such steeples were common on country churches 
of that day. 

There were over 8,000 Methodists in Louisiana in the 1840 's, 
over half of which were black. The Attakapas Circuit, which 
included the Lafourche Mission, had about 1,500 members. Once 
again, half of these were black. 

The Methodist Church made a major split this year. The 
Conference reprimanded Bishop James 0. Andrew because he had not 
freed slaves that he inherited. Many of the southern churches 
separated to form the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The 
question of slavery, which the Methodist Church had always opposed, 
was one of the major reasons for the separation. 

Virtually all Louisiana Methodists were in the Methodist 
Episcopal Church, South. The Methodist Episcopal Church (North) 
. . . while preaching against slavery . . . failed to put their 
integration into practice. The northern branch of the Methodist 
Church would not make its way down to south Louisiana until after 
the Civil War. 

Most of the blacks were reached when the Methodist ministers 
were allowed to preach to the workers on the plantations. Where 
there were churches, whites and blacks sometimes met together in 
the same church, though they sat in separate areas. When they took 
communion, the blacks and whites would take it side by side. The 
black population was very receptive to the Methodist message. 
Since the Methodists preached to all on a simple level, the blacks 
readily understood and accepted. As one ex-slave said, the 
Methodist preachers "preached in a grammer so plain that the way- 
faring man, though a fool, could not err therein. " The Methodist 
preachers, likewise, eagerly accepted the blacks into the church. 
In fact, by 1847, there were eight missions in Louisiana aimed at 
the black population. These missions were continued until the end 
of the Civil War. 


1846 

In 1846, Lafourche was placed under the Attakapas District. 
John Powell was the presiding elder. Philip H. Dief fenwierth and 
Thomas J. Lacey were appointed to the Lafourche Mission. 


1847 

In 1847, the Louisiana Conference was formed. At the first 
conference in Opelousas, the Houma/Bayou Black circuit got its 
first appointment. Charles J. Hallberg, who had been in the 


14 


Plaquemine area the previous year, was appointed. He served from 
January 1847 through 1848. 

Rev. Hallberg was born in the West Indies on June 3, 
1820. He and his family came to New Orleans when he was a 
boy. He was converted when he was seventeen years old. He 
was admitted on trial as a Methodist preacher in 1844 and was 
appointed to the Vidalia Circuit. Rev. Hallberg was admitted 
into full connection and ordained deacon by Bishop Soule at 
the first session of the Louisiana Conference in Opelousas in 
January of 1847. After serving Houma/Bayou Black, he moved on 
to the Richmond Circuit. On December 22, 1851, he married 
Eliza Lambert in New Orleans. Rev. Hallberg worked for the 
rest of his ministry in central and northern Louisiana. He 
also served in the Civil War as a chaplain in Mississippi. It 
was said that he was a faithful and self-denying laborer who 
had endured and suffered much in the service of the church. 
He died in Isaquena County, Mississippi on July 29, 1870. He 
left behind his wife and five children. 

Philo M. Goodwyn and Thomas J. Lacey were appointed to the 
Lafourche area (which now extended from Donaldsonville to 
Thibodaux) for 1847. Lafourche had a membership of 36 whites and 
33 black. 


1848 

Although the Conference Journal shows Houma "to be supplied" 
for 1848, Rev. Hallberg seems to have stayed in the area for part 
or most of the year. In 1848, Houma/Bayou Black had a membership 
of 30 whites. 

William R. Gober was appointed to the Lafourche Circuit, which 
was now only Napoleonville and Thibodaux. Rev. Gober was single; 
he would marry in 1851 to Miss N.P. Beazley, a minister's daughter 
from Jackson, Mississippi. They later moved to California. 

Lafourche had 30 whites and 60 blacks in its membership for 
the year. Lafourche and Houma were now in the Baton Rouge 
District . 

Houma was incorporated as a town in 1848. The first mayor was 
N.H. Rightor. 


1849 

In 1849, Alexander Sutherland was appointed supernumerary for 
the Houma circuit. He was a retired pastor who agreed to take the 
pulpit for a year. There were 48 whites on the Houma/Bayou Black 
circuit. Rev. Gober continued on the Lafourche Circuit. Rev. 
Lewis Reed was now working in the area as a missionary. The 
Lafourche Colored Mission was formed to reach the slave population 
of the area. Rev. Reed would continue his missionary position for 
the next four years. 


15 


Lewis A. Reed was born in September of 1812 in Henderson, 
Kentucky. He married Miss Eleanor Martha Phillips. He had 
joined the Poydras St. church in 1842. Before entering the 
ministry. Rev. Reed worked as an accountant. He was also a 
partner in a N.O. omnibus company. He sold his interest in 
the omnibus company after his conversion, because he refused 
to have a hand in a business that operated on the Sabbath. 

The itinerant life was hard on the Reeds. Their little 
girl, Rosina, died in 1853 when she was six years old. Only 
two years later, their eight month old son, Robert, also died. 

A number of his charges were to "colored missions". It 
was said that "few men were ever respected and reverenced by 
the whites or beloved by the negroes as was Brother Reed." 
Even though he might have seemed serious on the outside, the 
children and youth adored him. He made effective use of the 
Scripture in his sermons and was a better than average 
doctrinal preacher. 

His first appointment was in the New Orleans area in 
1845. Rev. Reed served the Napoleonville/Lafourche (from 1851 
to 1853) and Lafourche/Bayou Black Circuits (from 1854 to 
1856). He wrote to the Advocate several times at this period 
to list marriages he had performed. It appears that a popular 
spot for weddings was the Rose Cottage, a beautiful home in 
Terrebonne Parish. He quit the ministry temporarily in 1867 
due to money problems . He later went back to the Lafourche 
Circuit (1876-1878). He continued to serve charges around 
Louisiana until his death. He passed away on January 20, 
1899. 

Cornelius C. Wallis and John Wallis donated a lot of land in 
Tigerville (now called Gibson) on May 17, 1849 to the Methodists 
for the construction of a church and cemetery. The church building 
was built before the end of the year (see Rev. Price's article in 
the next paragraph). The church built on this property still 
stands today. Some of the original members of this church were 
Tobias Gibson, John McIntyre, and William Thompson. Of the 
churches at Thibodaux, Houma, and Tigerville, this one was the 
smallest and simplest. It is a variation of Greek revival style 
that was common at the time. It was known back then as the 
Sycamore Church, because sycamore trees grew in the yard. 


Rev. H.B. Price (who served the area in 1844-1845), writing to 
DeBow ' s Review from Bayou Black in 1849, says that "there is a 
Methodist church newly built" in Houma. He also mentions the 
church at Gibson, saying "there is likewise another Protestant 
church, belonging to the Methodists on Bayou Black, and recently 
completed." Since the Gibson church was built in less than a year, 
the Houma Church was probably completed in 1845 or 1846. The Houma 
Church was larger than the Gibson Church. Rev. Price goes on to 
say that the slaves are allowed to participate in religious duties; 
and that some of the plantation owners "consider it a duty to 


16 


provide a religious instructor to their slaves, i.e. K.H. Cage 
Tobias Gibson, Dr. Danks." 


1850 

Rev. Sutherland was replaced by Henderson A. Morse in 1850. 
Rev. Morse had one local preacher to assist him. His job was to 
fill in for the minister when he was preaching elsewhere. The 
membership of whites was down to 15, but the membership of blacks 
was up to 95. 

The Houma church was dedidated in 1850. The service was led 
by the presiding elder, W.H. Crenshaw. 

The first Sabbath School (Sunday School) was formed at Houma. 
At this time, there were fewer than three dozen Sabbath Schools in 
all of Louisiana. 

The Lafourche Circuit was taken in 1850 by Rev. William J. 
Ferguson. The Lafourche Colored Mission was served by Rev. Lewis 
A. Reed. Although the Colored Mission had only a couple of whites, 
it served around 500 blacks. 

According to the Historical Atlas of Religion in America , 
there were more Methodist churches in Louisiana (125) than any 
other denomination in 1850. But the memberships were usually 
quite small compared to the Catholic churches. Catholic churches 
at the time covered entire parishes, while Protestant churches 
served a smaller community. 


1851 

Rev. Morse left Houma after one year. The Houma church was 
now served by Rev. Ferguson, who had both the Lafourche and Houma 
charges. The membership of both circuits combined was 46 whites 
and 166 blacks. Lewis Reed, still serving the Colored Mission, had 
3 whites and 329 blacks. 

In a May 27th letter to the New Orleans Christian Advocate . 
Rev. Reed mentioned that it takes him four weeks to cover the 
thirteen plantations along the two hundred mile length of Bayou 
Lafourche and its tributaries. He noted that the church at 
Thibodaux was to be dedicated on September 24, 1851. In speaking 
of the Tigerville church, he said that its prospects were 
flattering. 

After a trial run in 1850, the New Orleans Christian Advocate 
began its ninety plus year history. Different editions of the 
Christian Avocate newspaper were issued around the country. The 
New Orleans edition covered the news from Louisiana, Mississippi, 
and sometimes Alabama. It also included articles from around the 
country and the world on Methodism and religion. Much of the 
information gathered for this book would have been impossible to 
obtain without the old issues of the Advocate ♦ 


17 


A March 15, 1851 issue of the Advocate describes the travels 
of the "first year of an itinerant in Louisiana Interior" whose 
initials were P.A.S. The minister writing this letter had a 
circuit that stretched across south Louisiana. Traveling by boat, 
he made his way to Houma (after visiting everyone who would open 
their doors to him). Upon reaching Houma, he preached at Houma's 
"new, beautiful and commodious church. " He noted that before this 
church was built, services were held in the courthouse. 

Besides the church, there were several other preaching places 
in the parish. They were: every six weeks, on Thursday night, at 
Mrs. Pierce's plantation; every three weeks, on Saturday night, at 
Mr. S. Gibson's plantation (one mile above Houma); every six weeks, 
on Sunday evening, alternating between Dr. Danks' plantation (on 
Bayou Terrebonne, eight miles below Houma and three miles above 
Mrs. P's plantation) and Messrs. Mayfield and Lane's plantation (on 
Grand Caillou, six miles from Houma); every three weeks, at 2 p.m. 
on Sunday, at Mr. Cage's plantation (four miles below Houma on 
Grand Caillou). At Tigerville, he preaches every three weeks to 
whites and blacks. In the evening, he preaches to Mr. S. Gibson's 
"negroes" about six miles above Tigerville. The planters in the 
area wanted their slaves to hear the preaching, also. 

The article's author also mentions that the Catholics have a 
"large brick edifice here, intended for a church, but unfinished." 
He goes on to describe that the "priest who had collected the money 
to build it went to France and neither he nor the money returned." 


G.N. Pierce says in a 1851 article of DeBow 1 s Review that 
Houma "consists of five stores, ten to twelve dwelling houses, a 
church (Methodist), a blacksmith shop, a school -house, hotel, grog- 
shop, and billiard room, " and a courthouse, jail, and official 
offices. There were also several doctors and lawyers' offices. He 
goes on to say that "in respect to religion, it is rather below 
par; however, there is a half-finished brick Catholic church at 
Houma, generally well-attended, (nearly all the Creoles being 
Catholics); also a Methodist church." The Methodist church was 
also used by the Episcopalians and Presbyterians on Sundays when 
the Methodists weren't using it. The Methodist circuit preachers 
had been holding regular services at the church, but there was 
little enthusiasm from the community. The preachers were forced to 
move on for lack of financial support (they were "frequently 
starved out"). The Methodist church at Tigerville, was in about 
the same shape as the one in Houma. 

Bishop James Andrew said at this time that the Methodists 
tended to start a church and then neglect its growth. It seemed as 
though this was happening in Terrebonne Parish. 

The 6th session of the Louisiana Conference was held in 
Guion's Academy in Thibodaux in December, 1851. Guion's Academy 
was the first public school, built on land donated by George Guion, 
an Episcopalian. At this time, Thibodaux was much larger than 
Houma, with a population of 1200-1500. Having a church in a city 


18 


in the middle of the heartland of Catholicism was probably 
considered a big deal . 

Though the Thibodaux church was built on a back street, it was 
moved to its Jackson Street location, near the Episcopal church, 
before the conference. It had been dedicated in September. The 
church was an attractive building with a tall steeple that could be 
seen from far off. It was about the same size as the Episcopal 
Church, which still sits on Jackson Street. It had seating space 
for three hundred people. The location of this church is now a 
parking lot for an auto dealer on Jackson Street. The Methodist 
preacher had services every two weeks. The Presbyterian minister. 
Rev.' Chamberlain, used it the other two weeks of the month. The 
Presbyterians built a slightly larger church a few years later on 
Thibodaux Street . 

This big event may have marked the high point of Methodism in 
the 19th century in south Louisiana. H.N. McTyeire said after the 
conference that he knew of "no ministerial work in the Louisiana 
Conference or any Conference that exceeds this, either in the 
opening prospects of large success, in intrinsic importance, or in 
moral sublimity. " But, the membership and outreach of Methodism in 
Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes in the 19th century was 
restricted to the English speaking population. Growth was slow and 
membership was small. The area had always been predominantly 
French-speaking Catholics. Since the early Methodist preachers 
couldn't speak French and the Catholic religion still held a good 
deal of control, this early attempt at the establishment of 
Methodism by-passed the majority of the population. It would be 
years before Methodists went to the people with a French-speaking 
pastor. 

1852 

The area's first Bible society was started in 1852. The Bible 
Society of Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes had its first meeting 
on January 18 at the Methodist church in Thibodaux. The ministers 
and several members of the area ' s Protestant churches 
(Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Methodist) made up the membership. 
The Episcopalian, Rev. Leonidas Polk, was selected as chairman. 
George Guion was elected president. Members from Terrebonne Parish 
included Joseph Semple (the vice-president), J.C. Potts, and Rev. 
William Ferguson. The funds generated from the society were to be 
used to distribute the Scripture to people of the two parishes. 

The Lafourche/Terrebonne area was placed under the 
jurisdiction of the New Orleans District in 1852. The presiding 
elder was John C. Keener. The Houma/Bayou Black Mission consisted 
of 33 whites and 233 blacks. The pastor was Rev. William Ferguson. 
It was referred to as the Houma and Bayou Colored Mission in the 
records. The Bayou Black Mission consisted of six plantations and 
the church in Gibson. Rev. Ferguson collected $260 from the Bayou 
Black Mission for 1852. 


19 


Rev. Ferguson wrote to the Advocate to describe the third 
Quarterly Meeting for the Houma/Bayou Black mission. It was held 
at the Tigerville church and lasted from September 23 to October 3. 
Fourteen people "embraced religion" and sixteen people joined the 
church. The old members were also uplifted. All ages and classes 
were affected. Father and son ... mother and daughter ... planter 
and worker were seen to kneel together at the altar . The presiding 
elder. Rev. Keener came to preach and will long be remembered by 
the people. Two local preachers. Rev. Rolls and Rev. Knight, 
assisted in the services. 

Rev. Ferguson was married this year. On November 24, he 
married Harriet P. Jarvis of Tennessee. Rev. Lewis Reed performed 
the ceremony in Thibodaux. 

The pastor assigned to Thibodaux was Robert J. Harp. He 
arrived from the Baton Rouge Circuit at the young age of 22. He 
ministered to 64 whites and 62 blacks. A Sabbath School class was 
organized this year in Thibodaux. The Thibodaux church was finally 
completed in March. 

The Colored Mission of Napoleonville and Lafourche was served 
by Lewis A. Reed. Its membership consisted of 7 whites and 345 
blacks, with 316 children under religious instruction. His 
collections along his circuit of eleven plantations came to $283 
for the year. 

A revival was held in Thibodaux that lasted three weeks from 
September to October. Rev. Harp accepted 40 new members into the 
church and 30 people were converted. This was the first real 
"revival" that the area had seen. 

Rev. Robert James Harp was born in Lawrenceburg, 
Tennessee on April 29, 1829. He felt the call to preach at 
the young age of fourteen. He was licensed and preached at 
the same age. His ministry was to last for seventy-one years. 
He transferred to the Louisiana Conference in 1846, when he 
was appointed to the Caddo Circuit. He started Shreveport's 
first temperance society. He moved southward, serving 
Alexandria and Baton Rouge before being appointed to 
Thibodaux. While pastoring a church in New Orleans, he 
married Miss Agnes Pennington on September 23, 1869. They had 
three daughters. 

He was a true example of the itinerant minister, having 
served around the state over a distinguished career . He was 
an intelligent, unselfish, and gentle man. One of his family 
said that he could not even think evil . He lived the 
thirteenth chapter of first Corinthians. It was said that if 
Methodist ministers could ascend to sainthood. Rev. Harp would 
be placed at the head of the line. He passed away in 
Shreveport on July 24, 1914. 

1853 

The appointments stayed the same for 1853. The black 
memberships increased slightly, while the white membership declined 


20 


a bit. Membership at the Houma/Bayou Black Mission decreased for 
both (15 whites and 201 blacks). This is the last time that Houma 
is mentioned until 1860. The Houma circuit was served from time to 
time by preachers from surrounding circuits, most probably the 
Thibodaux/ Lafourche circuit. Bishop James Andrews visited a number 
of churches in south Louisiana this year, but did not go to Houma. 
He did stop at the Thibodaux church and had a meal at Francis 
Mead's home, which was located in Schriever. This was the first 
time a Methodist Bishop had entered Terrebonne Parish. 

Lewis Reed, appointed to the Lafourche Colored Mission, 
informed the Advocate that he had lost access to five of the twelve 
plantations he had been serving. The "slave membership" was down 
to 700 souls. 

Rev. Harp wrote to the Advocate to inform the readers that the 
Thibodaux church had a big July 4th celebration. It was hosted by 
the Sunday School. 

Many people in the area, including Methodists, died in a 
yellow fever epidemic in 1853. One of those, Mr. M.P. Ziles, left 
$1000 to the Thibodaux Methodist Church. 

1854 

Rev. Ferguson left Houma in 1854 to serve Plaquemine and Point 
Coupee. The Houma church was served by Lewis A. Reed, who was 
appointed to serve Lafourche and the Bayou Black Circuit/Mission. 
His appointment serviced 50 whites and 882 blacks. 

Hazael A. Sugg was appointed to replace Rev. Harp in 
Thibodaux. While waiting for Rev. Sugg to arrive. Rev. Keener 
appointed B.F. Alexander to take charge of the Thibodaux Station. 
Rev. Alexander, who grew up and preached in Kentucky, had just 
transferred to the Louisiana Conference. Rev. Sugg was busy in 
Caddo Parish; he married Mollie Kate Cooke, of Tennessee, in 
January of 1854. He did make it down to the area soon after. The 
records show that he performed a wedding in Terrebonne Parish at 
the end of February. The Thibodaux Circuit was serving 45 whites 
and 64 blacks at this time. 

Before he left. Rev. Robert Harp started a church journal of 
records. He tried to put earlier records as he could find them, 
back to 1832. This record book was kept through 1889, though there 
are many gaps and omissions. Since the Houma and Gibson churches 
were placed on the same circuit as Thibodaux (especially after the 
Civil War), the only records we have of the 19th century Terrebonne 
Methodists are found in this book. This is the book that has 
previously been referred to as Rev. Harp's church journal. It was 
"rediscovered" in the Gibson church in 1976. It is now located in 
the Archives at Centenary College in Shreveport, though a 
transcription of the material was done and is available in several 
libraries . 

While looking though the records of this journal, you will 
notice that just about all of the names are Anglo-Saxon. The 19th 
century Methodist church never reached the predominantly French- 


21 


speaking population. This is probably why it virtually disappeared 
in the 1880's. 

Rev. Harp had been working on the history of the Methodists in 
south Louisiana. Unfortunately, all of his notes were burnt in a 
fire. If not for that fire, we would have an extensive history of 
19th century Louisiana Methodism from someone who was there. 

1855 

Lewis Reed continued to serve the Bayou Black Circuit/Mission 
for 1855. But this year, Donaldsonville was added to the circuit 
and Jesse Fulton was sent to help him. Together, they ministered 
to 39 whites and 671 blacks. 

The mission extended 140 miles from St. Mary Parish to St. 
James Parish. It includes eighteen plantations. They are able to 
reach the largest plantations about once a month. At a quarterly 
meeting at Bayou Black, Dr. J.C. Keener suggested that a series of 
chapels be built along the circuit by the blacks. Funds were soon 
collected and construction of chapels on Bayou Black and Bayou 
Lafourche began. 

Rev. Jesse Fulton was born in Baton Rouge on March 24, 
1831. He was converted in childhood. His first marriage was 
to Miss Mary A. Phipps on February 18, 1858; his second was to 
Mrs. Lucy A. Brown on December 4, 1865. He was admitted to 
the Louisiana Conference in 1855. He served as junior on the 
Lafourche and Bayou Black Circuit. He passed away in 
Meridian, Texas, on August 19, 1897. 

The Thibodaux and Napoleonville Circuit received a different 
preacher for 1855. Samuel Hawes was appointed to minister to the 
46 whites and 82 blacks on the circuit. 

Rev. Samuel Hawes was born in Louisiana on October 5, 
1819. He was born again in 1840. He was admitted on trial 
into the Mississippi Conference in 1842. He spent most of his 
ministry in southern Louisiana. 

Rev. Hawes was a gentle man . . . full of mercy. Like Rev. 
Reed, he had experienced the loss of loved ones recently. He 
came to the area as a widower. His wife, Rachel, had died 
after giving birth in 1852. His mother died of yellow fever 
while Rev. Hawes was in Thibodaux in 1855. He remarried 
shortly after to Miss Sarah A. Cain. His own life, after 
serving this circuit, did not last very long. On his 
deathbed, a friend asked him "whither goest thou." He 
answered "to a better world." He died of typhoid fever on 
July 2, 1860, two months after the birth of his daughter, 
Zipporah. Zipporah would later have a daughter named Ella, 
who will be discussed later. 

By 1855, there were nine different branches of the Methodist 
Church in America. Over 80% of the 1,672,517 American Methodists 


22 


were in two branches (the Methodist Episcopal Church - 783,358; 
Methodist Episcopal Church, South - 579,525). But the Methodist 
Episcopal Church had 4,579 ministers, while the Methodist Episcopal 
Church, South had only 1,672 ministers. Most of the 10,599 
Methodists in Louisiana were members of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church, South. So they were serving more people per pastor (1 
pastor = 84 members ) than their northern counterparts . There were 
also thousands of local ministers who preached more or less every 
week, when the official ministers couldn't make it. It is 
interesting to note that 1,255,897 of the Methodists were Anglo- 
Saxon. Almost none of them were French . . . the predominant 
population of southern Louisiana. 

A Houma Ceres newspaper article states that services were held 
at the Houma Methodist Church on November 13-16, 1856. Communion 
was served on Sunday, the 16th. Those attending included the 
preacher in charge, Lewis Reed, and the Methodist pastor from 
Thibodaux, Samuel Hawes. 

To illustrate the sharing of the Methodist building, a notice 
in the Houma Ceres on December 6, 1856 advertised that the 
Episcopal pastor from Thibodaux would be preaching the next week at 
the "Protestant Church" in Houma. 

The end of 1856 brought a change in ministers for the Houma 
and Lafourche Circuit. While Jesse Fulton remained, Lewis Reed 
left and was replaced by Thomas L. Beard. They served 43 whites 
and 575 blacks. 

The fourth quarterly meeting for the circuit was held at the 
Houma Methodist church on the third weekend of January. Rev. J.B. 
Walker of New Orleans presided. 

A notice was placed in the Houma Ceres on May 23, 1857 that 
stated that services would be held at the Methodist church at 11 
a.m. on May 31. Services would continue every other week for the 
rest of the year. 

Rev. Hawes remained in Thibodaux. A revival was held, with 
the help of Rev. C.K. Marshall and Rev. J.B. Walker. It yielded 
two conversions and five who joined the church. 

At the end of the year. Rev. Hawes was replaced by Jephthah 
Landrum, who served through 1857. The Thibodaux church had 23 
white members and 50 black members. It seems as though things were 
not going well. Rev. Landrum notes in the church journal that it 
was "a year of toil, trial, and temptation . . . without any visable 
marks of God." 

Jephthah Landrum was born in Alabama on August 25, 1825. 
He entered the Louisiana Conference in 1854. After getting a 
law degree from the University of Louisiana in 1861, he served 
as a chaplain in the Confederate Army. He married Miss M.C. 
Butterworth on January 21, 1864. After a two month illness in 
1887, he passed away. On his deathbed, his wife asked him, 
"Does Jesus save you now?" He replied, "Yes, that he does." 
Raising up his hands, he exclaimed "Up, up, up, rejoice!" and 
ceased to breathe. 


23 


1858 


N. A. Cravens was appointed to the Lafourche ^nd B ayou Black 
circuit for 1858. There was still one Sabbath School. The 
circuit's library contained two hundred volumes. Besides . 59 ? 
membership of 41 whites and 540 blacks, he also preached to 1599 

Sla in a letter to the Advocate in October, Rev. Cravens stated 
that the congregations are "large and attentive ... though no 
general revival has been realized." In the third quarter alone, 
132 were baptized and 61 were received on probation. 

Thibodaux received M.D.T. Fly as their pastor for 18 • 

served 20 whites and 50 blacks on the circuit. The Thibodaux 
library contained four hundred books. 

Bv 1858, there were eighty-one Sabbath Schools in Louisiana. 
This was the term they used for the Sunday Schools. The conference 
that year emphasized the importance of these Sabbath Schools as a 
principal arm of service of the church. Sunday School would impact 
other areas of the church. The Sunday Schools would play an 
important role later on in raising money for missions. Sunday 
School teachers needed to have a solid foundation in Biblica 
accounts and teachings. Certificates and pins for good attendance 
and memorization of Bible verses became standard. 

1859 

Rev. Cravens stayed with the Lafourche and Bayou Black 
Circuit/Mission for 1859. The membership declined to 32 whites and 
228 blacks. The only thing that increased was the number of books 
in the library . . . from two hundred last year to six hundred t 1 

year. 

Rev. Cravens was living in Napoleonville at this time. Rev. 
Cravens and his wife Elizabeth had a one year old son Joseph, who 
died in 1859. His mother-in-law, Elizabeth Barnett, died the next 

The church in Thibodaux received Robert A. New. He arrived in 
Thibodaux on Tuesday, September 19. He preached his first sermon 
at the Thibodaux church the next day at 7 p.m. He was late in 
arriving, due to the sickness and death of his mother in 

Rev. New went about getting things back to normal, as the lay 
people had let things go in the absence of a minister. He led an 
old-fashioned Love Feast on November 27. Class meetings and Sunday 
School are now attended with more regularity. Rev. New notes in 
the church journal that a number of Catholics have been attending 

the Methodist church affairs. , nn . . ._ 

The Thibodaux church ministered to 27 whites and 99 blac 

The Thibodaux church contained a library of 300 books. 

Rev. Cravens was replaced at the end of the year by Stephen J. 


24 


Davies and William McBeath. They were now serving 44 whites and 
276 blacks. Rev. New continued to serve at Thibodaux. He reported 
a membership of 35 whites and 110 blacks. 

1860 

The next year, 1860, saw Rev. McBeath assigned only to the 
Houma and Tigerville Circuit. Rev. McBeath was born in Kentucky. 
He passed away in December of 1861 and was buried near Houma, 
Louisiana. He was the first Methodist minister buried in 
Terrebonne Parish. The first census of Houma was taken in 1860. 
The population was 429 . 

Rev. Davies was appointed to help Rev. New on the Thibodaux 
and Napoleonville Circuit. While the Thibodaux church membership 
remained level, the Lafourche and Bayou Black Circuit continued to 
lose members. The first mention of financial aid was $150 
apportioned for Houma and Tigerville. In the third quarterly 
conference held in Thibodaux in 1861, Rev. Harp (who was serving 
nearby) mentions that there were only a few people giving money. 
If this kept up, they couldn't afford to support the preacher. 

There were eighteen parsonages in Louisiana at this time, and 
only four in the New Orleans District. There were still none in 
the Terrebonne/ Lafourche area. 


1861 

The year 1861 brought the beginning of the Civil War. Since 
many Louisiana Methodists were black, this was to greatly affect 
the church. Of Louisiana's 14,680 Methodists in 1861, 6152 were 
black. In Houma/Tigerville, there were 9 whites and 109 black 
members. The Thibodaux/Napoleonville circuit had 45 whites and 100 
black members. Stephen J. Davies served the 
Thibodaux/Napoleonville Circuit . 

Matthew D. Thomason was appointed to serve Houma and 
Tigerville for 1861. He had spent the last few years serving the 
Mississippi Gulf Coast and Alabama. There was one Sabbath School 
on this circuit. There was also a library of one hundred and fifty 
books. Along with the regular congregation, he preached to 250- 
1090 slaves. Rev. Thomason later left and went to Alabama to serve 
as a chaplain in the Confederate Army. He died in Mobile, Alabama, 
in 1864. 

Several other Louisiana Methodist ministers, such as Joshua F. 
Scurlock (went to Texas), Charles J. Hallberg (went to 
Mississippi), and James L. Wright, served as chaplains and 
missionaries. They held services, distributed Bibles and 
literature, and Methodist newspapers during the Civil War. 

1862-1865 

Robert R.R. Alexander was appointed to cover the Thibodaux and 
Houma circuits for 1862 and 1863. Rev. Alexander was born in 


25 


Kentucky in 1831. He died on April 11, 1867, in Jefferson, Texas. 

The area was left unsupplied in 1864 and most of 1865. There 
were no appointments to the area because they were "without 
preachers because in the enemy ' s hands . " 

1866 

Then, at the end of 1865, the Thibodaux and Houma circuits 
welcomed Robert Hardie, Jr. He arrived in Thibodaux on Wednesday, 
December 26. He found the church in the possession of blacks who 
had joined the African Methodist Episcopal Church and were holding 
the property in their name. Remember, the Thibodaux church had 
been without a minister for a couple of years. It took a bit of 
work, but possession of the church was returned to the Methodist 
Episcopal Church, South, on December 28. The African Methodists 
built two churches of their own in the next ten years. 

Rev. Hardie preached his first sermon on the morning of 
December 30. He also held a watch meeting at midnight of New 
Years' Eve. After being without a pastor for so long, he notes 
that the congregation's spiritual condition was "truly lamentable." 
They showed complete indifference towards church obligations. 
After a bit of work, he was able to get the congregation under 
control. He reorganized the Sunday School in January. It now had 
two teachers and four scholars. It had broken up during the war. 

Since 90% of the Houma circuit was made up of blacks, the 
outlook for the Houma Methodist Episcopal Church, South looked 
bleak. The city of Houma would not receive its own appointed 
minister from the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, for over forty 
years . 

You may note that we have been following the history of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church, South . . . since it was the only active 
branch of Methodism in south Louisiana from 1845 to 1865. We will 
now take a break from the history of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church, South, and will cover the history of the "northern" branch 
... the Methodist Episcopal Church ... in our area. 


26 


J 


THE METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH 


On Christmas day of 1865, the first session of the Mississippi 
Mission Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church was held. 
Rev. Richard King Diossy, who had just transferred from the 
Methodist Protestant Church, was appointed as the presiding elder 
for the Opelousas District. Although the Methodist Episcopal 
Church was not a "black" branch of the Methodist Church (Rev. 
Diossy himself was "white"), it aimed its work at the blacks of the 
south. Since the Civil War had ended, they were leaving the 
Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and the Methodist Episcopal 
Church wanted to reach out to them. Rev. Diossy noted that the 
ministers of these two Methodist branches were opposed to his 
efforts in the district. 

The first pastor appointed to the Thibodaux and Houma circuit 
was William Murrell. By the end of 1866, there were 340 members on 
the circuit and two churches were being completed. 

Born about 1814 in South Carolina, William Murrell was 
the son of a slave (Rebecca) and her "master", Peter Murrell. 
While a boy, William was owned by a youth named Toby, who 
helped him learn to read. While he was with Toby, William was 
converted and felt called to the ministry. He was later sold 
and brought to New Orleans in chains as a young man. William 
was bought by a Mr. Wolridge, a minister of the gospel, who 
allowed William to improve his education and to preach. He 
preached in African Methodist and Methodist Episcopal, South 
churches. He married Comfort Caroline Cokee in 1851. After 
the war. Rev. Murrell joined the newly formed Mississippi 
Mission Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. 

It was under Rev. Murrell's leadership that the first 
Methodist Episcopal churches were built in Houma and 
Thibodaux. In 1868, Rev. Murrell was elected to the State 
Legislature by the Republican party and served several terms. 
Because of his bold and determined style of speech, he was 
known in the Legislature as "the wild man from Lafourche." 
During his stay on the Thibodaux/Houma circuit, where they say 
his word was law, he never accepted money for his preaching 
services. After fifty years of preaching in the Methodist 
Church, Rev. Murrell passed away on February 7, 1892. 

In 1866, under the authority of Rev. Richard King Diossy, 
property was bought in Thibodaux and Houma. The property in Houma 
consisted of lots 1 and 2 on block number 5. It was a 60' by 96' 
piece of land on the southeast corner of Canal Street and Wood 
Street. At that time, the Barataria Canal ran through town between 
Barataria Street and Canal Street. The church, known as the Wesley 
Methodist Church, was completed by 1867. The cornerstone for the 
original church was a gift from W.J.M. Price. The original church 


27 


was replaced in 1889 by a white frame steepled church with colored 
glass windows. The second church occupied the corner for eighty 
years. The Evening Star Lodge #1 donated a piece of property on 
Canal Street (next to the original property obtained in 1866) to 
the Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church. This increased the amount 
of property owned by the church. 

The ringing of its church bell was a familiar sound to the 
people of Houma. After the effects of time and hurricane Betsy had 
damaged the building, it was torn down and replaced with the 
present church in 1969. 

In the same year, property was purchased in Thibodaux to be 
used for a Methodist Episcopal Church and a school for "free 
persons of color." It was bought from Rachel Tabor, a "free woman 
of color", for $175. The property was part of lot 56, bordered by 
Cider Street on the south. Narrow Street on the east, and President 
Street on the west. The church was named the Calvary Methodist 
Church of Thibodaux. Construction was completed in 1867. It was 
rebuilt in 1885 under Rev. G.W. Lacey. 

The Methodist Episcopal Church, with churches in Thibodaux and 
Houma, had 410 members by the end of 1867. In 1868, Rev. Murrell 
left the area and was replaced by Rev. Henry Grimes (in Thibodaux) 
and Rev . J . M . Vance ( in Houma ) . 

The year 1869 brought Rev. Grimes back to Thibodaux, while 
Rev. John W. Wesley replaced Rev. Vance in Houma. Rev. Diossy, who 
was still the presiding elder of the Opelousas District, noted that 
there was much animosity and persecution towards the ministers and 
the church. It was often not safe for him to travel to some parts 
of the district. 

In January of 1870, Rev. J.W. Wesley was reappointed to the 
Houma church (which had 128 members), and Rev. Robert Hodge was 
appointed to the Thibodaux church (which had 839 members). 

Rev. Hodge, born a slave in Virginia in 1807, was a 
member of the Methodist Episcopal Church for 47 years. He was 
one of the original preachers of the Mississippi Mission 
Conference back in 1866. On his deathbed he said, "I am 
waiting for the Lord and feel as a soldier mustered out of 
service going to his reward." 

The Methodist Episcopal Church in Thibodaux welcomed Rev. 
William Murrel back as their pastor in 1871. Austin Kennedy was 
also appointed to the circuit. Rev. J.W. Wesley was reappointed to 
Houma . 

Though Murrell and Kennedy returned for 1872, Rev. Wesley was 
replaced by Rev. Samuel Davage. 


Under the leadership of Rev. Kennedy, a congregation of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church was incorporated in 1872 at Terrebonne 
Station (now called Schriever). Like the Wesley Church in Houma, 


28 


most members were black even though this wasn't a black branch of 
the Methodist Church. The trustees included Henry Johnson, 
Fredrick Bud, Anthony Hill, Ledger Hill, Edmond Brown, and Robert 
Capen. They took a ninety-nine year lease on a lot from George D. 
Craigen, a New York native who owned Magnolia Grove. It was a 100 
foot square lot along the left bank of Bayou Terrebonne between 
Magnolia Grove and Dumas Plantations. A small church was located 
on the property. By the end of the first year, the Schriever 
church had 267 members. 

A congregation of the Methodist Episcopal Church, North was 
incorporated on May 27, 1897 at Schriever. People in this 
congregation included Nathan Pugh, Alfred Nicholls, Dennis Johnson, 
Aaron Robinson, Ezekiah Robinson, Robert Smith, and William L. 
Brooks. This was probably a re-incorporation of Rev. Kennedy's 
church . 

Austin Kennedy, the original pastor of the church, worked 
in a local sawmill. After being admitted on trial in 1870, he 
served most of his ministry in the Terrebonne area. He passed 
away in 1895 and was buried in Schriever. 

The Methodist Episcopal Churches in Terrebonne Parish saw a 
number of preachers come and go for the rest of the century. The 
church at Schriever was pastored by Austin Kennedy (1870-1874, 
1877-1879), Robert Hodge (1875), E.P. Royal (1876), George 
Washington (1880-1881), Willis Carr (1882-1883), A.J. Pickett 
(1889), H.J. Wright (1890), Charles Monroe (1891), Stephen Green 
(1892-1893), H.C. Gair (1894), A.J. Proctor (1895), and W.S. Harris 
(1896). Over the years, the membership of the Schriever church 
went from 146 (1873) to 130 (1889) to 80 (1896). 

The church at Houma, called the Wesley Methodist Church, was 
pastored by John Sparks (1873-1874), Henry P. Taylor (1875-1877), 
Aristide E.P. Albert (1878-1879), Edward Fields (1880-1881), A.J. 
Ford (1882-1883), Frank D. Bowers (1889-1891), Robert Anderson 
(1892), Sanders Carroll (1893), H.T.O. Abbott (1894-1895), and D.M. 
Seals (1896). Over the years, the membership in Houma went from 75 
(1873) to 265 (1889) to 89 (1896). 

Another Methodist Episcopal Church was formed in Terrebonne 
Parish in 1875. Like the other Methodist Episcopal Churches 
founded in 1866 and 1872, this congregation consisted of mainly 
black members. The articles of incorporation for the "Houma 
Methodist Episcopal Church" were filed on June 22, 1875. The 
pastor was Henry P. Taylor. The board of trustees included Charles 
Lang, Jack Hick, Robert Williams, Samuel Singleton, Louis Wright, 
Smith Thomas, John Murray, and Claiborne Wright. 

Rev. Henry P. Taylor was born in 1825 in South Carolina. 
He was converted at age thirteen. Though born a slave, he was 
able to receive an education with the free children. He came 
to Louisiana in 1845 and helped erect Wesley Chapel in New 
Orleans. Rev. Taylor transferred from the African Zion 


29 


Connection to the Louisiana Conference of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church in 1873. After serving in New Orleans for 
two years, he served in Houma for two years. Rev. Taylor was 
remembered as a fine vocalist and Christian gentleman. While 
serving in Houma, Rev. Taylor passed away on January 15, 1877. 
He was survived by his second wife and his three children. He 
was buried in Terrebonne Parish. 

A New Yorker, George D. Cragin, donated a piece of land to the 
Methodist Episcopal Church, Live Oak, on February 15, 1882. It was 
located on his Dulac plantation twenty miles below Houma. The Dulac 
area was called Live Oak at the time. The Board of Trustees 
included Townsend Jackson, Daniel Jones, James Johnson, John 
Hubbard, Richard Wilson, and Manuel Smith. The pastor was Rev. 
Henry C. Armstrong of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The 
membership stood at 15 for the first year. After one year, the 
membership had increased to 24 and a church was in use. The pastor 
for the second year (1883) was C.H. Claiborne. From the mid 1880's 
until the end of the century, the Dulac church was usually served 
by the pastor from Houma. The membership in those years never rose 
above 10 people. Pastors of the early 1900 's assigned to Dulac 
included T.H. Roberson (1902), Nolan McNeal (1904), James Christian 
(1905), and D. Sutton (1906). After the plantation shut down, the 
church gradually died away. 

A group of citizens bought a piece of property from R.R. 
Barrow in 1887. The land was in Bateyville ( Beattieville ) , an area 
that used to be Mr. Barrow's Batey Plantation. The area is now in 
the town known as Gray. The trustees at the time of purchase were 
J.P. Brown, William Hickman, Harry Williams, Andrew Jackson, and 
Thomas Santu, Sr. This church was a part of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church. There were now four Methodist Episcopal Churches 
in Terrebonne Parish. 

The first mention of the Bateyville (Gray) church in the 
Conference Journal came in 1890, when H.J. Wright was appointed to 
serve Schriever and "Beattieville." The property for the church 
was bought from R.R. Barrow in 1887. The congregation was 
organized as the Mt. Vernon Methodist Church and was incorporated 
on this property in 1906. Michael Smith was the president at that 
time. 


The early 20th century saw another series of pastors in 
Terrebonne Parish. Some of the pastors in Houma were I.R. Scott 
(1901), H.C. Gair (1902), M.S. Goins (1903-1904), W.S. Harris 
(1905), D.J. Price (1907), F.T. Chinn (1913), and H . A. Sorrell 
(1919). Some of the pastors in Schriever were Edward Powell (1901- 
1902), C.W. Kersaw (1903-1904), and Thomas Williams (1905-1907). 

A report from the 20th session of the South New Orleans 
District Conference shows that local appointments included P.C. 
Colton (Houma), H . A . Sorrell (Schriever), and R.E. White (Gray). 
The Houma church had 107 members, 4 local preachers, 2 exhorters. 


30 


and 1 school. The pastor's salary for the year was $150. The 
church building was in good condition. They raised $239 for the 
year. 

With the merger of 1939, the northern and southern branches of 
the Methodist Episcopal Church were joined. Now, let us return 
back to 1866 and the history of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 
South. 


1867-1868 


Houma was now included in the Thibodaux Circuit. Philo M. 
Goodwyn was appointed to the Thibodaux and Houma Circuits for 1867 . 
This was the same Philo M. Goodwyn who had served here many years 
before. He served the circuit for two years. In both circuits, 
now combined into one again, there were 48 whites and 100 blacks. 
The circuit now consisted of Thibodaux, Napoleonville, Houma, 
Tigerville. Rev. Goodwyn preached one Sunday a month at each 
place. During the reconstruction period, which lasted from 1865 to 
1877, the Methodist church building was used as a public school 
during the week. 

Rev. Goodwyn was born in 1820 in New Albany, Indiana. He 
moved to the South in 1837. He was soon converted and joined 
the Poydras St. Church in 1840. He was admitted into the 
Mississippi Conference the next year. His first appointment 
was to the Lafourche Circuit in 1842. He returned to the area 
to serve from 1867 to 1868. Rev. Goodwyn had a sprightly 
disposition and an active temperament. He served as a true 
circuit rider around the state of Louisiana for over thirty 
years. It was said that his character was without stain; he 
lived to do good. In the end, the hard itinerant life had 
worn him down. Rev. Goodwyn passed away on December 15, 1892 
in New Orleans. 

Records for Houma and Tigerville now start appearing in Rev. 
Harp's church journal. The members for 1867-1868 are listed. 
Sixteen names are listed for Houma and four for Tigerville. The 
only record that actually mentions the Houma church itself is the 
baptism of Mrs. Elmyra Delarand Helmick, which took place in the 
Houma church on July 5, 1868. She was baptized by Rev. Goodwyn. 

Of the 9,831 Louisiana Methodists, only 1,983 were now black. 
Despite the loss of the black members, the Methodist Episcopal 
Church, South began to grow. This was largely due to the efforts 
of the lay people, both male and female. This was because there 
was a shortage of pastors. This shortage continued for a number of 
years. This led to many circuits being combined or left to be 
supplied. This is what happened in the Houma area. 

For 1868, Philo M. Goodwyn was again appointed to the area, 
now known as the Thibodaux Circuit. The Houma Mission was included 
on this circuit. Its membership is listed as 31 whites. Blacks 
are no longer listed in the conference statistics. 

1869 

James L. Chapman replaced Rev. Goodwyn the next year on the 
Thibodaux Circuit. The membership of the Thibodaux Circuit is now 
given as 41 whites. 


32 


The Christian Advocate published an article at that time that 
"outlaws" certain activities that Methodists were expected to stay 
away from. These banned activities include going to or 
participating in: a gambling saloon, a brothel, dancing, Mardi 
Gras, and the theater. In fact, the preacher is told to turn away 
from church anyone who has gone to a theater. 

To combat the competition from the Methodist Episcopal Church, 
the Methodist Church, South did away with the probation period for 
new members, allowed for greater lay representation, and allowed 
preachers to stay for four years in an appointment. The itinerant 
minister was becoming a little less itinerant. 

1870 

In 1870, James L. Wright was appointed to serve the 22 whites 
still remaining on the Thibodaux Circuit. Rev. Harp's church 
journal lists twelve members for the Houma church for 1870. Rev. 
Wright preached his first sermon in Thibodaux on February 6. The 
sermon was on "Be there in the fear of the Lord all the day long 
... Proverbs." The first quarterly meeting of the year was held in 
Houma . 


Rev. Wright was born in Russellville, Kentucky on 
September 21, 1822. He was converted in New Orleans in 
February of 1842. He later married Miss Mary A. Grant. They 
raised a large family. He was admitted on trial in the 
Mississippi Conference in December, 1845. In 1848, he 
transferred to the Louisiana Conference. He served a variety 
of charges around Louisiana. In 1865, he was a chaplain in 
the Confederate army. 

As a pastor, he always met his obligations. His 
preaching was very "hortatory". He didn't like exegetical 
preaching, and rarely tried it. His plea to sinners to repent 
was delivered with tremendous power. Rev. Wright liked to 
sing a hymn before delivering his sermon. His singing alone 
was enough to bring a tear to the eye of many listeners. Rev. 
Wright was best known for his gift of prayer. He passed away 
in Ruston in 1903. 


1871-1872 

The Thibodaux Circuit was combined with the Algiers Circuit 
later in 1871, It was left to be supplied by Lewis A. Reed in 1872. 
Since Lafourche (and Terrebonne) were on a larger circuit, this 
meant that the visits from the pastor were even less frequent. On 
the entire circuit, there were only 56 whites. 

In January of 1872, a Louisiana conference for black 
Methodists was formed. Two years earlier, the Colored Methodist 
Episcopal Church had been formed. 


33 


1873-1878 


Thomas Mullett was appointed to serve Brashear City (now 
called Morgan City) and the Lafourche Mission for 1873. He arrived 
on February 8. He found the Thibodaux church in poor condition. 
There were only eight members on the church roll. While the 
circuit was left "to be supplied, " many of the members transferred 
to the Episcopal Church. Rev. Mullett's schedule was to preach at 
Tigerville on the first and third Sundays of each month, at 
Thibodaux on the second Sunday of each month, and at Houma on the 
fourth Sunday of each month. He went to Tigerville twice a month 
because of the "anxiety on the part of the people for preaching." 

Rev. Mullett was appointed to the same area for 1874. He 
mentioned in the journal that he has no horse and can't afford to 
buy one. He has to travel by foot from church to church. By this 
time, there were only 15 members on the entire circuit. 

The circuit was left to be supplied for 1875. 

The next appointment came when Lewis A. Reed returned to the 
circuit for 1876. The circuit now included Donaldsonville, 
Napoleonville, Thibodaux, Houma, and Tigerville. 

Rev. Reed formed one Sunday School and put together a library 
of two hundred and fifty volumes. The membership now stood at 24. 
After one more year, he had built up the membership to 81. 

In 1878, however. Rev. Reed moved on and Lafourche was left to 
be supplied. There were 78 members. 

1879 

Lafourche and its 64 members were still left to be supplied in 
1879. There were four churches on the circuit, valued at $6000. 
This number undoubtedly included the churches at Houma, Gibson, 
Thibodaux, along with one other location. 

Rev. William J. Picot, a French Canadian and preacher in the 
Wesleyan Church, joined the Louisiana conference and was appointed 
to the Attakapas French Mission in 1879. After a bit of hesitation 
by the Conference (he was married to a fifteen year old girl from 
Haiti), his appointment was approved. He concentrated on the 
Iberia Parish area, though it is known that he preached from 
Lafayette to Morgan City. He preached in houses, out in the open, 
in ball rooms . . . wherever he could find a group of people. The 
Catholic priests were not too happy that he was speaking to the 
French. In fact, the priest in New Iberia forbid his members to 
attend Rev. Picot 's services. After one year. Rev. Picot reported 
72 members, 1 local preacher, 15 adults and 6 infants baptized, 1 
parsonage ($700), 3 Sunday Schools, 6 teachers, 69 scholars, $16 
collected for Sunday Schools, and $400 paid to missions. 

By the end of the year, he was asking for money to support 
another pastor from Canada who could speak French. In a letter to 
Rev. J.D. Harper, Rev. Picot mentions that with an additional man. 


34 


they could even reach Terrebonne Parish. But money was hard to 
come by for the French Mission field. His letters to Rev. Harper 
in 1879 were full of encouragement for the missionary work. But in 
1880, the topic of his letters was largely concentrated on his need 
for funds. 

Picot did not stay long. In 1880, he was dismissed from the 
Conference for "gross immorality." Once again, the French Mission 
field was abandoned. 


1880-1881 

Thomas Hall Jones was officially appointed to the 63 members 
of the Lafourche Mission in 1880. He had already spent much of 
1880 serving as supply for the Mission. Since Rev. Jones only 
stayed a short while in 1881, the Lafourche Mission was without a 
minister for most of 1881. Evidently one or more of the churches 
had fallen into disrepair, because they had to spend $100 for 
church repairs that year. 

Rev. Jones was born in Montgomery, Alabama on September 
12, 1859. He moved to New Orleans in 1861 and was converted 
at the Sea Shore Camp Ground in the summer of 1876. From the 
first hour of his conversion, he knew he was meant to preach 
the Gospel. He attended Centenary College, though he was 
bothered by ill health. After spending much of 1880 serving 
as a supply for the Lafourche Mission, he was admitted to the 
Louisiana Conference in December of 1880 and was appointed to 
the Lafourche Mission. After only serving a couple of months, 
the disease that had plagued him for several years crippled 
his health. He returned to his home and passed away on April 
4, 1881. His untimely death robbed us of a promising minister 
of the Gospel. The Lafourche Mission was therefore without a 
minister for most of 1881. 

On April 20, 1881, Hugh O'Rourke donated a lot of land along 
Bayou Tiger to the Methodist Church. It was a 60' by 100' block of 
land inside O'Rourke's property around Gibson. The pastor of that 
congregation, which was Methodist Episcopal Church - Zion 
Connection, was Barnabas Callaway. The Zion Connection was a black 
branch of the Methodist Church that had separated in 1822. He 
stated that if a church wasn't built, the land would revert back to 
him. The records do not state whether or not a church was ever 
built on the property. 


1882 

Charles F. Stivers was appointed to the Lafourche Mission for 
the year 1882. The membership was down to 60 whites. The offering 
for the year came to $250. 

Rev. Stivers was born in October, 1860 in Bastrop, Louisiana. 
He was converted and joined the Methodist Church in 1878. 


35 


1883 


The Lafourche Circuit was down to 35 whites in 1883. Rev. P. 
Calvin was appointed pastor. 

Robert Smith donated a piece of land on Little Caillou to the 
African Methodist Episcopal Church. Rev. J.D. Haynes is mentioned 
on the documentation. 


1884 

J.F. Scurlock was appointed to minister to the 36 whites on 
the circuit for 1884. There was one Sunday School with 12 members. 
The library had "disappeared". Perhaps Rev. Reed took them with 
him when he left. At least some of the books were left in the 
area. Miss Ella Hooper of the MacDonell School had stated she 
possessed some books with Lewis Reed's name in them. The circuit 
now had three churches valued at $3000. 

Rev. Scurlock was born in Jackson County, Alabama in 
1834. He was saved at a camp meeting in 1850. He joined the 
Memphis Conference. After hearing Rev. Robert Harp make an 
appeal for ministers to come to Louisiana, he transferred. 
Rev. Scurlock was a diligent student of the Bible who loved to 
read. He also loved to preach. Although bothered by disease 
for many years, his preaching was instructive and original. 
He was a pious man who prayed often. He served as a chaplain 
in Texas for the Civil War. He passed away on April 23, 1902 
in New Orleans. 

Rev. Stephen Davies, Jr. wrote an article to the Advocate in 
1884 on the French Mission field. He noted that he was asked to 
go to the area at the last conference. No one had been to the area 
since Rev. Picot ' s dismissal. Rev. Davies couldn't speak French, 
but he agreed to go to the Cypremont area. He had limited success. 
Those who were converted were very zealous and can "say amen with 
true Methodist fervour." He made an appeal for the appointment of 
someone who could speak their language. He referred to the area as 
a "Macedonia in our midst" where help was needed badly. 

1885-1888 

J.F. Scurlock remained on the Lafourche Circuit for 1885, but 
the membership had dropped to 28. Also, the Sunday School had been 
dissolved. There was only one baptism (an infant) for the entire 
year. 


When Rev. Scurlock was moved to Algiers /Gretna, Lafourche was 
left to be supplied for the next few years. 

In the spring of 1885, the Presbyterian church (in Houma) on 
School Street that had been built in the late 1850 's fell apart. 


36 


For the next few years, the Presbyterians used the Methodist church 
for their services. 

The Lafourche Circuit was left to be supplied for 1887. It 
was under the jurisdiction of the Opelousas Circuit. It's too bad 
that it didn't stay in the New Orleans District. New Orleans kept 
perfect records for the year, while the Opelousas District didn't 
keep any records. If there were better records, we might have a 
better idea of what was going on at the Houma church. 

The Thibodaux/Houma area is not mentioned in the appointments 
for 1888. The population of Houma at this time was 1200. 

Rev. Harp's church journal lists six members in the Houma 
church in the mid 1880 's. Of the six, Sarah Wallis and Rebecca 
Wallis died, and the church lost track of Mary R. King and Mariah 
Hornsby. This left only Mary E. Robertson and Sarah Prevost as 
members of the Houma church. 

In January 1888, the Houma City Council improvement committee 
noted the "dangerous condition" of the Methodist Church building. 
Mayor M.F. Smith ordered it to be removed or it would be condemned 
because it was in such bad shape. A fire had occurred in Houma the 
previous December. They were looking at the old church as a fire 
hazard. Since the Houma church had dwindled down to two members, 
it was decided to sell the property. 

At the first quarterly conference of 1888 at Morgan City, Rev. 
S.S. Keener, the presiding elder, was directed to sell the church 
in Houma and to use the funds to build another church in the 
district. 

Under the authority of Rev. Keener, the building and property 
were sold on March 19, 1888, for $650 to D. Albert Chauvin. The 
money was put into the district account and used to build a church 
in Crowley. Mr. Chauvin sold the property two years later to Mrs. 
Mary Booth Fulton. It was Mrs. Fulton who had the church torn down 
and replaced with a millinery and dry goods business. Mr. D. 
Albert Chauvin bought the building a few years later and lived in 
it for a number of years. He sold it to the Houma Council of the 
Knights of Columbus, who in turn sold it to Mr. J.H. Thatcher in 
1929. Mr. Thatcher tore down the building and build a hotel on the 
property. Today, the hotel is used as an office building. 

So, does this mean that there is a gap in the history of 
Methodism in Houma/Terrebonne? Of course not; the Methodist 
Episcopal Churches were still around. Also, the Methodist Epicopal 
Church, South, in Gibson still received occasional visits from the 
pastors to the west from Morgan City & Berwick. 


1889 

At the request of Rev. C.F. Evans, the presiding elder of the 
New Orleans District, Bishop Hargroves appointed Rev. James Matthew 
Henry to serve the Thibodaux Circuit until the annual conference. 
He arrived in Thibodaux on July 1, 1889 and found a church building 


37 


and six members. He also found a church building and seven members 
at Gibson. 


James Matthew Henry was born on January 15, 1853. He 

came to Louisiana straight out of Vandebilt University. He 

was a quiet, but friendly man. He passed away on October 11, 

1921. 

Rev. Henry began preaching with small congregations . . . about 
40 people. After a while, the number increased to 75 to 140 
people. The prayer meetings drew 50 to 65 people. He did not try 
to revive the Sunday School. He raised fifty dollars in 
r collections, just enough to cover the traveling and church 
expenses . 

The last entry in Rev. Harp's church journal was the 1889 
registry of the church at Tigerville (Gibson). It consisted of 
seven members: Jane E. Nash, Emeline Carline, Roso Moody, Nannie 
Moody, Phillip Walthers, John Walthers, and William Walthers. The 
church would be served on an irregular basis from now on by the 
pastors from Morgan City or Berwick. 

At the yearly conference, held in December, 1889, Rev. Henry 
was appointed to supply the Morgan City and Patterson circuits. No 
one was appointed to the Thibodaux/Houma area, though it is 
possible that Rev. Henry made his way back to the area on occasion. 
A few records from the Gibson area can be found in the Morgan City 
registers in the 1890 's. 

Other Protestant denominations also continued to use the 
Gibson church. It was used by the Episcopals for quite a while. 
The Episcopal Church records in Houma show records from the church, 
known to them as St. Anna's Mission, dating from 1880 into the 
early 20th century. 

The Gibson Methodist Church was also used as a school before 
a school building could be built in Gibson. During the Civil War, 
Union soldiers used the small building as a hospital. 

1890-1897 

No one was appointed to the Thibodaux or Houma areas for 1890. 
E . T . Denson was appointed to serve the Thibodaux and Houma Circuit 
for 1891. He was stationed in Thibodaux. The Thibodaux church 
still showed 15 members. There w^s also one Sunday School with 55 
members. The only church on the circuit was the one in Thibodaux, 
valued at $2000. 

Rev. Denson had raised the membership to 25 whites and 1 
black, though the Sunday School had dropped to 18 members. 
Thibodaux and Houma were left to be supplied for the next two 
years. Subsequent years, from 1893 on, do not even mention the 
circuit . 

The Board of Missions for the New Orleans District stated in 
the 1892 Conference Journal that "in Lafourche we have a church. 


38 


but no preacher; in Terrebonne - possibly a house, but n o 
preacher." The Thibodaux church was never resupplied. It was sold 
at the beginning of the 20th century. The Methodist church in 
Thibodaux wasn't restored until 1949 under Rev. John Redmond. 

It is at this time that the Epworth League was formed in 
Louisiana. This organization was for the youth. Louisiana's first 
chapters began in 1894. The Houma area would not form a chapter 
until the church was "resurrected" in the next century. 

In the 1894 Journal, the French Mission shows up and is listed 
as "to be supplied by Joseph Berwick." Finally, H.W. Wallace of 
New Iberia was appointed to the French Mission for 1896. The 1896 
Journal lists the French Mission "to be supplied by O.B. Seiward" 
for 1897. It also states that there were 57 members in the French 
Mission in 1896. The French Mission at this time was considered to 
be the area around New Iberia and St. Martinville. The area would 
expand to include the Terrebonne/Lafourche area in 1907. 

1898-1900 

The conference for 1898 was held in January of that year. 
Martin Hebert (of St. Martinville) asked to be sent to the French. 
He was admitted on trial to the French Mission for 1898. Armed 
with two sermons in French, he began his first year in ministry to 
the French. There were still 57 members and no church. By the end 
of the year, the membership had dropped to 43, but there was now a 
church (at Isle Aux Cannes) in the Mission. He only accepted two 
people on profession of faith. A local "Creole" was licensed to 
exhort during the third quarter. Looking back. Rev. Hebert said 
that his biggest accomplishment that first year was meeting and 
marrying his wife, Nettie. His salary for this first year was 
$ 210 . 

The church built in 1898, which measured 28' by 38', should 
have been built twenty years ago when Rev. Picot was in the area. 
He had gotten the cypress lumber to build the church, but it was 
never built. Some of the lumber was even used to build a dance 
hall. 


Rev. Hebert stated that his biggest problem was not the 
Catholic Church, but the drinking and dancing. The Methodist 
Church opposed drinking and dancing, which were an important part 
of the lifestyle in south Louisiana. To join the Methodist Church 
meant that they had to give up drinking and dancing. To many, this 
was harder than turning away from Catholicism. 

The French Mission was left to be supplied by Joseph Berwick 
in 1899. Though they didn't tell him why. Rev. Hebert was moved to 
the Plaquemine/Brulee Circuit. No one was appointed to the French 
Mission for 1900. But the next year, Martin Hebert was back. 

Martin Hebert was born in Bell City, Louisiana on May 29, 
1874. He grew up in the Catholic church. As a youth, he was 


39 


converted. He went to Lake Charles College and taught for a 
while. He heard the call to preach, but didn't have the money 
for an education to prepare him for the ministry. He and his 
brothers raised a crop and used the proceeds to pay for their 
schooling (his brother Willie became a minister in the 
Methodist Episcopal Church). He was licensed to preach at age 
twenty-three and was admitted on trial in 1898. 

He married Miss Nettie Clarissa Kingsbury, of Missouri 
Valley, Iowa, on July 18, 1898. The two of them had seven 
children, all of whom were born in parsonages. Nettie was a 
talented teacher and musician, and would always lend a hand 
when needed. She was the model pastor's wife ... maintaining 
a Christian 'family while still supporting her husband's 
ministry. When accolades were poured on Rev. Hebert, he knew 
that he was able to accomplish what he did due to the efforts 
of his beloved wife, Nettie. 

Approximately two-thirds of his ministry was dedicated to 
the French people of south Louisiana. He traveled across the 
bayou country by horseback, boat, buggy, wagon, on foot, and 
by bicycle. He often came to Terrebonne Parish by train. He 
served the French Mission for much of the first quarter of the 
20th century. He filled in as the Houma pastor for half of 
1916. He was the presiding elder of the Houma and French 
Mission District form 1920-1923. He also served a variety of 
charges in other parts of the state. 

Simply put, Martin Hebert WAS the French Mission in 
Louisiana. He was the "emblem of the Protestant French" in 
south Louisiana, as Dr. B. Joseph Martin once said. He 
recognized the need to bring the Methodist message to the 
people in their own language. Many of the Methodist churches 
in south Louisiana owe their existance to his efforts. 

The message that Rev. Hebert preached was simple and 
straight-forward. He wasn't interested in theological 
subleties and fancy religious opinions. He offered the Gospel 
to everyone and offered it to them equally. 

Rev. Hebert passed away on October 9, 1961. He left 
behind a legacy unequalled in south Louisiana Methodism. 


Back in Terrebonne Parish, we find Robert E. Martin. He was 
a person of deep religious nature; but he was not satisfied with 
the Catholic religion. His father had bought a Bible, a rarity in 
the hands of Catholics in those days. By reading his Bible and 
praying, he was converted. On October 3, 1899, he organized The 
Spiritualist Society of Bayou Blue. It was near Matherne Canal, on 
the left bank of Bayou Blue. This area is also often referred to 
as Bourg or St. James. Their first "church" was an old hay shed 
that was converted into a meeting place. They later built a 
chapel. Services were conducted in French. The officers were; 
Robert Martin, president; Albert Martin, vice-president; Teles 
Matherne, secretary; and Clay Savoie, treasurer and medium. 


40 


1901-1906 


Rev. Hebert was working out of New Iberia. At Lydia he found 
families that had converted to Methodism when Rev. Picot had served 
the area. He also found a Methodist family, the Prince family, at 
Cypremort. He used these three families as a foundation for 
congregations at both towns. By the end of 1901, there were 119 
members in the French Mission. Another church was built at 
Cypremont . 

Revivals were held around the area, especially in the summer. 
Rev. Hebert notes that the church could not hold all of the people 
who came to hear the Word. The services were in French, with some 
singing sometimes done in English. He noted that it was slow work 
to convert the Catholics, who had never known of any other 
religion. 

Three years later, the membership had risen to 140, and there 
were two churches in the Mission. There were now 30,000 Methodists 
in Louisiana. This is over twice as many as there were just twenty 
years ago . 

Rev. Hebert kept writing to the Advocate trying to raise funds 
for the French Mission. An article in a 1905 issue of the 
Christian Advocate stated that we must not forget about the 
"unsaved at our own door" . . . referring to the French people of 
south Louisiana. 

If we may, let's take a look at the Gibson church in the early 
1900 's. Methodists in Terrebonne Parish were being served by the 
pastor from Morgan City. Rev. H.S. Johns, pastor at Morgan City, 
noted in the fourth quarterly conference in 1903 that he had been 
preaching at Gibson and Donner. He also mentioned that he had 
"officiated at many funerals of which no record has been kept, from 
Belle Isle to Houma." The people of Gibson and Donner even 
guaranteed to pay $500 if a man would be assigned to their circuit. 

Rev. S.S. Keener noted at a 1907 quarterly conference that the 
Gibson church needed a new roof. In 1909, Gibson was mentioned as 
one of the stops on the Morgan City/Berwick circuit. In 1910, the 
pastor noted that "at Gibson, La., congregations have been better 
through this year than last" and "the church at Gibson has been 
painted." Morgan City's pastor in 1914, C.C. Weir, wrote that 
"there are two mission points that should be reached more 
thoroughly: Donner and Gibson" and that "there is a vast territory 
up and down the river that should be evangelized." Several records 
of Methodists in Terrebonne Parish can be found in the registers of 
the Morgan City church during this time. 

1907 

While Rev. Hebert was working in the New Iberia area, 
something was happening in Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes. 

Robert Martin, previously mentioned as the leader of the 
Spiritualist Society of Bayou Blue, was given a list of twenty-one 


41 


different religious denominations by a friend, Mr. W.P. Martin. 
This was the first that Robert had ever heard of any religion 
besides Catholicism. Shortly after this, the Spiritualist Society 
received a visit from Rev. Martin Hebert. 

Rev. Hebert was trying to extend the scope of the French 
Mission to the parishes of Terrebonne and Lafourche. He came into 
the area in 1907 to conduct a meeting. The Bayou Blue Society was 
impressed by his message. Robert Martin showed him the list of 
religious denominations and said, "Now which is your Church?" Rev. 
Hebert pointed to Methodism. 

"What do the Methodists believe?" asked Robert Martin. 

"Well, we believe in the Bible." replied Rev. Hebert. 

"So do we." answered Mr. Martin. 

"We believe in conversion." said Rev. Hebert. 

"So do we." answered Mr. Martin. 

"We believe in sanctification." said Rev. Hebert. 

"So do we." answered Mr. Martin. 

"We believe in keeping ourselves separate from the sin of the 
world." said Rev. Hebert. 

"So do we." concluded Mr. Martin. "I didn't know we were 
Methodist." Subsequently, the entire Society converted to the 
Methodist religion. Rev. Hebert later said that one of the 
happiest days in his life was when he opened the church doors at 
Bayou Blue and received sixty- four applicants. For many years, it 
was the largest single group to join the Methodist Church at one 
time. 

The Bayou Blue and surrounding communities would make great 
contributions to Methodism in Louisiana. The Martin family alone 
contributed six men who became pastors and/or local preachers. 
Robert E. Martin later became licensed to preach and became a local 
elder. Two of his sons, A.J. Martin and A.M. Martin, also became 
full-fledged ministers in the Louisiana Conference. They preached 
around south Louisiana. For a while, A.J. was a conference 
evangelist. Kleibert F. Martin, Robert's brother, served as a 
local preacher in Terrebonne Parish. The third brother, Anatole D. 
Martin, was a pioneer of the French Mission. 

Rev. Anatole D. Martin began his ministry on the 
Lafourche Mission in 1914. Born on April 23, 1882 in Bayou 

Blue, he was a member of the Spiritualist Society of Bayou 
Blue, which was led by his brother Robert. As a young man, he 
and his brothers operated a syrup mill and a saw mill. He 
married Agnes Matherne in 1902. 

Anatole Martin decided to follow his brother Robert and 
entered the ministry. He started the first Protestant church 
in a schoolhouse in Raceland in 1914. Over the next couple of 
decades, he served churches along the bayous of Lafourche and 
Terrebonne Parishes . . . Pointe au Chien, Little Caillou, 
Dulac, Griffin, Lockport, Labadieville, and Golden Meadow. 
Some of these little churches no longer exist. The church at 
Griffin was later demolished and the wood used to build the 


42 


church at Thibodaux. There was no church at Labadieville ... 
they used to meet at a Mr. Richard's house. To get to Dulac, 
he would take a boat from Point aux Chene to meet a Mr. 
Savoie. Mr. Savoie would pick him up in a pirogue and take 
him to Dulac, where they would hold services in private homes. 

He preached at many more locations. His daughter, 
Maggie, would often accompany him and play the pump organ. 
Later, during the Depression, several of these churches were 
closed. Some would reopen in subsequent years, but by then 
the other Protestant churches had picked up most of the non- 
Catholic population. His preacher's salary at the time was 
$500 a year . . . not much to support a wife and seven children. 
He bought a horse in 1917 to get around. 

Due to the lack of funds . . . his salary had stayed at 
$500 for six years . . . Rev. Martin decided to quit the 
ministry in 1919. He soon changed his mind and was back in 
the pulpit. 

In 1920, he moved his family to Lydia to serve in Iberia 
Parish for two years. In 1922, he moved back to Terrebonne 
Parish and was once again serving the churches "down the 
bayous" . . . Dulac, Grand Caillou, Bayou Blue, Pointe au Chien. 

A few years later. Rev. A . D . Martin was left without an 
appointment. The new presiding elder said that there was no 
room for uneducated preachers in our district . . . and Rev. 
Martin had only gone through the fourth grade. Now, remember. 
Rev. Martin had founded and served churches throughout 
Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes. Rev. A.D. Martin was an 
excellent example of the fact that education is not 
necessarily what makes a good minister of the Gospel. Rev. 
Martin had common sense, zealousness, and a sincere desire to 
bring Christ to his French neighbors. 

It didn't take long before the presiding elder realized 
that the French churches were not growing. The presiding 
elder called upon Robert Martin and said, "tell Brother 
Anatole I want to see him . . . the French churches aren ' t doing 
well." Robert answered, "I could have told you that ... but 
you tell him yourself." This conflict was one of the reasons 
that later sent Rev. A.D. Martin to another Protestant 
denomination. Another reason was the lack of money. The 
Baptist preachers got more money. Rev. Martin had always 
struggled to make ends meet. 

In the 1930 's he took correspondence courses to study the 
ministry. In 1936, he was ordained as a Baptist minister. He 
held the first Baptist services in Dulac. The Baptist 
services were conducted on a church that floated on the bayou 
on top of a barge. He pastored the Bayou Dularge Baptist 
Church from 1938 to 1948, when he had to retire because of his 
health. He soon joined the staff of the MacDonell School and 
later resumed serving the Methodist Church as a local 
preacher. He continued to preach when asked to fill in. He 
was honored on the television program "Crosswords" in 1954 for 


43 


his ministry to God and to his fellow man. In his later 
years, he would walk from his home on Goaux Avenue to the 
courthouse every day to visit. He passed away on February 27, 
1966. 

Anatole ' s son Dr. B. Joseph Martin became a prominent 
Methodist minister and educator. Being the son of a local 
preacher, he had to drop out of high school three times to work to 
help raise money. Friends such as Rev. F.J. McCoy encouraged him 
to continue with his education; and that he did. He obtained B.A., 
B.Th., M. Th. , Ph.D., and law degrees; and he served in prominent 
positions at several colleges around the country. He completed 
his career by serving as pastor in Lafourche and St. Mary Parish 
churches such as the Raceland church, which his father founded in 
1914. Dr. Martin has said that education has been his life, but 
the ministry has been his avocation. 

There were several other preachers to come out of the early 
French Mission area. C.J. Thibodeaux and G.A. LaGrange were 
educated at the MacDonell School, became preachers, and served the 
local French charges. They were from Labadieville. Rev. J.A. 
Knight, Rev. E.V. Duplantis, and Rev. E.C. Dufresne were also 
natives of the French Mission area who later served the area. 

1908 

At the Crowley District Conference in May, 1908, Rev. Martin 
Hebert and his helpers presented the need of the French Mission. 
After his appeal, the members of the Conference pledged $250 
towards the cause of the French Mission. At this same meeting, 
J.C. Duplantis, Robert E. Martin, Samuel R. Henderson, and William 
V. Falcon were admitted on trial. All of these men would go on to 
serve the French Mission. The first parsonage in the area was 
built in 1907 in St. Martinville for Rev. Hebert. 

In the 1908 report by the Committee on Missions, it was 
resolved that the church employ as many people as possible in the 
French Mission work. They would also agree to raise funds to help 
pay for these workers. It was noted that the General Board of 
Missions had undertaken to support Rev. Hebert in his work. 

In a June 30, 1908 article to the Advocate . Rev. Martin Hebert 
wrote an article to report on the French Mission field. The French 
Mission had been expanded to include the area from Vermillion to 
Lafourche Parish. He related the story of his latest visit to 
Terrebonne Parish. 

He had to travel eighty-five miles by train and twelve miles 
by buggy to reach the church at Bourg (Bayou Blue). The church, 
which had been built the previous year, just installed new pews. 
After visiting with six families that afternoon, he held a service 
for fifty people that night. It was an "old-fashioned experience" 
meeting in which a dozen members witnessed as to how they were 
saved. Six new applications were made for church membership. 


44 


Another service was held in the morning at 11 a.m. One of the 
gentlemen at the service was a life-long Catholic, about fifty 
years old. He had been reading from a New Testament borrowed from 
a neighbor who had bought it from a colporter. A colporter was a 
seller of Bibles and other religious material. The gentleman had 
traveled ten miles to learn more about what he read. After the 
sermon, he invited the ministers to come and preach at his house, 
which they promised to do on the next trip. 

It is interesting to note that this man had never read a Bible 
before. Catholics of this day were not allowed to read the Bible 
on their own. One gentleman interviewed for this book actually 
remembers seeing a Catholic priest tearing up Bibles that had made 
their way into people's hands. Thankfully, the Catholic church has 
changed its position since then. 

That afternoon. Rev. Hebert traveled twenty miles by buggy to 
Dulac. Rev. R.E. Martin and Rev. William V. Falcon had recently 
started work here. Rev. Martin was starting his first year as a 
Methodist minister. Rev. Falcon, a young French preacher from 
Baton Rouge, decided to work the French Mission field, also. 

That evening a service was held in a dance hall to a packed 
crowd. He was dissappointed that he couldn't hold services the 
next night. The hall was needed for the bi-weekly "hop." Mention 
was made to the dance hall owner that the building would be put to 
good use as a permanent meeting place. A service was held the next 
day at 11 a.m. 

Rev. Hebert was approached by a man who had a dance hall but 
was no longer in the business. He off erred the use of his 
building. So Rev. Hebert moved to the ex-dance hall. A service 
was held in his building that night to a filled room. Many 
attending expressed a desire to be saved. After the service. Rev. 
Hebert was told that the attendance at the "hop" at the other dance 
hall was extremely small. The owner said that if the Methodists 
kept on coming, he would be forced to go out of business. 

A Sunday morning service was held the next day. Rev. Hebert 
returned to Bayou Blue and arrived in time to hear Rev. J.C. 
Duplantis delivering his sermon to a congregation of 100. Rev. 
Duplantis had just finished his education at Ruskin Cave College. 
Six people joined the church and fifty-six members received 
communion . 

Rev. Hebert mentioned the efforts of two others in the area. 
One is an agent of the American Bible Society who had sold three 
hundred Bibles in the last three months. Most of these people were 
reading their first word of scripture. The second person is Rev. 
0. Derouen. He was a native-born French-speaking Creole who was a 
devout Catholic until age thirty. Working for the American Sunday 
School Union, he has organized eight Sunday Schools among the 
French in the last four months. 

Working in the western area of the French Mission was Rev. 
S.R. Henderson. Though he had been there only two months and 
doesn't speak French, things looked promising. 


45 


Rev. Hebert concludes the article by saying that someone is 
needed to serve Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes. This person 
would also need a motorized boat to enable him to reach the people. 
It would not be long before his plea would be answered. 

At the Louisiana Conference held in December, Martin Hebert 
was returned to the French Mission for the ninth consecutive year. 
He finally received help. Rev. C.V. Breithaupt was appointed to 
minister to the 60 members of the French Mission in Houma (and 
Bayou Blue). Robert Martin would also be helping Rev. Hebert. The 
French Mission had grown to 120 members, with three church 

buildings. . _ _ 

The Conference Journal also notes that C.V. Brexthaupt, F.J. 
McCoy, and others would continue on trial. They hadn't passed the 
exam for their first year of classes. 


46 


CHAPTER 4 


METHODISM "RETURNS" TO TERREBONNE PARISH 


Rev. Clyde Vernon Breithaupt: 1909-1916 

Rev. C.V. Breithaupt arrived in Houma in February of 1909. He 
would spend the next seven and one half years building up the 
Methodist church in Terrebonne Parish. 

Rev. Clyde Vernon Breithaupt was born on December 11, 
1881 in Jena, Louisiana. He remembered as a youth back in 
1892, how he walked barefoot through the swampy terrain . . . 
this is the same type of land that he would later travel 
through in spreading the Gospel. Even though his family moved 
back to north Louisiana in 1896, he never forgot the Cajun 
environment. Before he entered the ministry. Rev. Breithaupt 
would have never even lived in a town without a Methodist 
church. Now it would be his job to bring a Methodist church 
into just such a town. 

At the age of twenty- three, he married Margaret ta Hundley 
on June 5, 1905. Shortly thereafter, he passed the Bar in 
Louisiana. He then acquired a degree in theology from 
Vandebilt University. Both degrees were attained through 
correspondence courses. The Breithaupts had five children, 
two of which were born while they were in Houma. After 
serving Houma, he was transferred to Alexandria to serve as 
state superintendent of Sunday Schools. As field secretary, 
he had to travel for most of the year. Since he felt he had 
to stay near his family, he accepted a position as a local 
pastor for a number of years at the Pineville Methodist 
Church. To make ends meet, he worked in his father-in-law's 
automobile dealerships. He sold Studebaker, Packard, Hudson, 
Hupmobile, and Essex automobiles. But Rev. Breithaupt was a 
preacher at heart, and not a businessman. He went bankrupt 
and had a nervous breakdown. 

The Breithaupts moved to Phoenix, Arizona, because they 
thought its dry climate would be good for Rev. Breithaupt 's 
health. He sold life insurance until his retirement in 1948. 
From 1926 until 1939, he taught a men's Bible class in the 
Central Methodist Church in Phoenix. He never lost his talent 
with the Word of God; they say the class seated two hundred 
and there was seldom an empty seat to be found. 

After having a stroke around 1960, Rev. Breithaupt 
returned to Alexandria. He lived there with his nephew until 
he died on March 13, 1963. 

Rev. Breithaupt wrote his first letter to the New Orleans 
Christian Advocate in March of 1909. He described the area to 
which he has been assigned. The population of Terrebonne Parish at 


47 


this time was 38,000. Houma itself had 6,000 members, twice as 
many as six years ago. The parish was rich in natural resources 
. . . chief among them being sugar cane, corn, oysters, oil, and 
cypress lumber. The numerous bayous are filled with hundreds of 
boats, big and small. A $43,000 high school was to open next year. 
Most of the parish approved a tax to go towards education. There 
were two Protestant churches in Houma. The Episcopal church had a 
membership of 155 and reaches 500 people throughout the parish. 
Their Sunday School had an enrollment of 200. The Presbyterian 
church had a membership of about 40 and a small Sunday School. 
There were eleven Roman Catholic churches and six priests in the 
parish. The only Methodist Church in the parish was the Bayou Blue 
Church, with 60 members. 

Upon his arrival. Rev. Breithaupt held the first services at 
a private home one and a half miles from Houma. His "congregation" 
was made up of Catholics. He held his first service in the city of 
Houma on February 28. He rented the Hook and Ladder fireman's hall 
for the occasion. Several citizens had asked him to preach in 
locations around the parish. He tried to get to them as time 
permitted. Rev. Breithaupt noted that there are old men with 
grandchildren who have never heard the story of Jesus. He urged 
that a prime objective of the Louisiana Conference should be "More 
Men and More Money for French Mission." 

In April of 1909, Rev. Breithaupt wrote to the Advocate and 
noted that the Methodist church would have to be established if 
they hoped to see the return of Methodists who had transferred to 
the Episcopalian and Presbyterian churches in the absence of a 
Methodist church. 

Rev. Breithaupt organized a Sunday School, an evening song 
service, and cottage prayer meetings. He was a gifted young man 
who attracted large crowds. Rev. Breithaupt was a friendly man; 
everyone liked him. He had an excellent singing voice. 

As mentioned, one of the first places used as a "church" in 
Houma was the Hook and Ladder fireman's hall. For each service, he 
had to hire someone to move the fire-fighting equipment outside 
before the service and inside after the service. He had two dozen 
Methodist hymnals, bought with his own money. He also had his 
Bible. He had to spend $5 out of his own pocket for gasoline for 
the boat he used to get around the parish. 

The Hook and Ladder Hall was built in 1888 on northeast corner 
of Church Street and Verret Street. It was named because of the 
miniature hook and ladder on the roof . . . the tools of the 
firefighter's trade. The Hook and Ladder Hall was used for public 
school work on weekdays, dances on Saturdays, and church on 
Sundays . 

The salary of a Methodist preacher at this time was not 
exactly overflowing. A small amount would be taken in from 
collections. But Houma was still a Mission church ... and would 
remain so for years to come. It would receive money donated from 
other churches . Sometimes the preacher would receive donations of 
materials to help him. One gentlemen remembers eating supper at 


48 


the Breithaupts. The meal was omelets, because that's all that 
they had ... someone had "paid" the preacher in eggs. In fact, 
many new preachers were welcomed with a "pounding" . Members 
brought a pound of sugar, a pound of rice, and so on. 

Rev. W. Winans Drake, in appealing for money for the Houma 
Mission, stated in a June 24, 1909 Advocate article states that 
reaching the French people of southern Louisiana is "one of the 
most important steps in the recent history of Louisiana Methodism." 

Rev. Drake would write again in 1909 to emphasize the 
importance of bringing the Gospel to "our French neighbors." There 
were over a quarter of a million French-speaking citizens in south 
Louisiana. While they are Roman Catholic, they were not in 
practical touch with the Church and were without religious 
instruction. He noted that early efforts into this field by Rev. 
Martin Hebert showed great promise. Since more and more of the 
children were going to school and were learning English, more of 
the population could be reached. Churches needed to be started in 
towns like Houma and Thibodaux. 

Dr. Nelson, of the Mission Board, visited the area around that 
time. With his help, a boat was purchased for Rev. Breithaupt to 
use to travel around the field. Rev. R.E. Martin was assisting him 
as a field missionary. Three men. Rev. Hebert, Rev. Breithaupt, 
and Rev. Martin, covered the entire French Mission field. Rev. 
Breithaupt concentrated his efforts on the eastern end of the 
French Mission; Rev. Hebert concentrated on the western end; Rev. 
Martin helped out in both areas. Sometimes the three worked 
together. A 1909 meeting in Henry was treated by the services of 
all three men. 

Meetings were held around the parish wherever space could be 
found. Services were held at that time in a dance hall, a school, 
and private homes. The only church in the area was a "commodious" 
house of worship built by the congregation at Bayou Blue. A couple 
of young men in the area were even called to preach. The people 
were buying the colporter's Bibles at the rate of 200-300 copies a 
month. In a letter written to the Advocate , Rev. Hebert sent out 
an urgent call for help. He asked for prayers, $2000 for a church 
in Houma, and help in building churches at Montegut, Esther, and 
Kaplan. Rev. Breithaupt had received eighteen to twenty members 
into the congregation at Montegut, which is in Terrebonne Parish. 

Terrebonne Parish suffered one of its worst hurricanes in 
September of 1909. Rev. Breithaupt wrote an article in the 
Advocate to inform everyone of the damage from the hurricane. Rev. 
Breithaupt had been around the parish in the boat recently bought 
for him. The stories from the southern part of the parish were 
horrific. He tells of one family riding the roof of their home as 
it was swept away. One by one, they watched as each of their five 
children slipped away into the waters. Another man was observed 
holding on to his wife by the cloth of her dress. Wave after wave 
passed over them. Looking down, the man saw that all he had hold 


49 


of was a piece of cloth . . . the dress had ripped and his wife was 
buried somewhere under the water. After the storm, people could be 
seen combing the parish . . . looking for the remains of their loved 
ones. One man, who had been out of town, returned to find his wife 
and all of his children dead. He buried them with his own hands. 
About three hundred parish residents were killed, though none of 
our Methodist members perished in the storm. 

Although the loss of life was not as great in the northern 
part of the parish, the property damage was great. Almost every 
building in the parish was damaged. Every one of the camps at Sea 
Breeze was blown away. The only Methodist church in the area, at 
Bayou Blue, was completely demolished. Using what is available 
from the old lumber, the church was soon rebuilt. 

Rev. Breithaupt would travel around the area on his two cycle 
Harley Davidson motorcycle. Sometimes Mr. Johnny Foolkes (the 
brother of the woman who later sold the church some property) would 
drive Rev. Breithaupt around to his preaching locations when the 
weather was bad. He later got his own car, a Studebaker, though it 
was burnt in a fire in his garage. There were shell roads in town, 
but dirt roads elsewhere. He would travel to Bayou Blue (where 
there was a church building and a large congregation), down each of 
the bayous of Terrebonne Parish, and anywhere else that he could 
find a place to preach. For example, one of his preaching places 
was Palmer's Store, located near the present Catholic retreat. 
Lumen Christi, on Highway 311. He would preach out of the store 
itself. It was not unusual for Rev. Breithaupt to show up at one 
of these places all covered with mud. 

The Houma charge of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South 
incorporated itself on November 12, 1909 for ninety-nine years. 
The witnesses included Clifford P. Smith, Robert H. Sanders, James 
W. Warren, Joseph L. Melancon, Joseph H. Pullen, George J. Gueno, 
E . A . Smith, J.A. Robichaux, and C.V. Breithaupt. 

The same day, the church purchased four lots (lots 1, 2, and 
3 on block 59) from Joseph H. Pullen for $650 cash. They were on 
the southeast corner of High St. and Gabasse St. Mr. Pullen had 
just bought the property from Emile Daigle in September. Other 
names mentioned on the documentation were Clifford P. Smith 
(president), Joseph A. Robichaux, Robert B. Butler, and C.V. 
Breithaupt. By the end of the year, they had also raised $200 
towards the building of a church. 

No mention was ever made of an attempt to build a church on 
the property. It was used only as a parsonage. A triangular piece 
of lot 3 was sold to Ellis Dupre in 1915. In 1921, lots 1, 2, and 
3 were sold to Alfred J. Hebert. The three lots were sold to raise 
money to pay for the Red Brick Church that was being built. The 
house on the east side of the property (lot 4; 814 High St.) was 
used as a parsonage for over 40 years. This was Terrebonne 
Parish's first Methodist parsonage. It was sold in 1953. 


50 


The men mentioned in the 1909 purchase were prominent members 
of the community as well as the church. Mr. Clifford P. Smith had 
come to Houma and started a cypress lumber business. He was an 
important member of Rev. Breithaupt ' s church. He was also a 
prominent member of the community for years. He served as foreman 
for the Hook and Ladder Fire Company for a while. His daughter, 
Helen, would later have the pulpit in the new church built in 1956 
put in memory of her parents. 

Joseph H. Pullen withdrew from the Episcopal Church this year 
to join the Methodist Church. In his letter of withdrawal, he 
notes that when he came to Houma in 1894 there was no Methodist 
Church in town. Like several other Methodists who had come to 
Houma, he had been attending another Protestant church. His family 
later moved to northern Louisiana. 

Robert B. Butler came to Houma in 1898 after passing the bar 
exam. He practiced law in Terrebonne Parish for fifty-eight years. 
He served as a representative and as a senator in Baton Rouge. He 
was a judge for eighteen years. He even ran for lieutenant 
governor at one time. Judge Butler was also known as a pioneer for 
the Boy Scouts in the area. He was never without his cigar, except 
when he was on the bench. Besides serving in a number of civic 
organizations, he also taught the men's Sunday School class at the 
Methodist Church for years. He passed away in 1965 at age ninety- 
five. 


The 1909 Conference held in December notes that C.V. 
Breithaupt and F.J. McCoy ... traveling preachers ... were elected 
deacons. The Houma charge had grown to 91 members. The Sunday 
School had 76 members. It also says that Rev. Breithaupt was 
assisted by two local preachers and that he had four societies on 
the charge. Seven infants were baptized this past year. 

Rev. R.E. Martin was the junior preacher assigned to help Rev. 
Breithaupt at the Houma Mission for 1911. He was working out of 
Bayou Blue. The Houma Mission now had 130 members. By the end of 
the year, it had 152 members. They had rebuilt the church at Bayou 
Blue. There were 9 Sunday Schools in the Mission with 250 members. 
The Mission Board gave Houma $1000 for 1911. The first women’s 
group, the Women's Home Mission Society, was formed this year with 
18 members. The Mission Board was still supporting the Houma 
Mission. 

Moving the fire-fighting equipment in and out of the Hook and 
Ladder Hall became bothersome. So Rev. Breithaupt rented a room on 
Main Street. It is known that the Opera House was sometimes used. 
The Opera House was a two storied building with a six-sided tower 
on the southeast corner. It was built in 1896 by the volunteer 
fire department. They stored fire fighting equipment downstairs. 
There was a bell in the tower to ring in case of fire. The post 
office was also located downstairs. Speeches, stage shows, and 
dramas were presented on stage. It served as a movie house for 
early silent movies. Someone, such as Mrs. Daisy Ray, would play 
the piano during the movies. The Opera House was torn down in 1933 


51 


to build a post office. A restaurant occupies the old post office 
today . 

Rev. Walter G. Harbin came to Houma to preach for two weeks in 
March. One of his services, for men only, was held at the Opera 
House with an attendance of between 250 and 300 men. Considering 
there are only about 60 Protestant men in this entire city of 
6,000, the turnout was impressive. Rev. Harbin preached on "A Man 
Wanted." There were eleven accessions at this meeting alone. 
Everyone in town knows that the same hall where we hold our 
services is a good place to find spiritual joy as well as earthly 
pleasure. 

Still, using the Opera House meant sharing the room with other 
functions. So, Rev. Breithaupt rented a room elsewhere on Main 
Street. It was on the third floor in a building that now holds a 
business called Palais Royale. This third floor has since burned 
down. There was a large room in which the services were conducted. 
People sat on benches. Rev. Breithaupt kept his gym equipment ... 
weights, parallel bars, etc. ... on the same floor. He would 
invite the boys to work out with him. But, he wouldn't preach to 
them at these exercise sessions. Still, the priest got upset with 
the Catholic boys for mingling with that "Protestant" preacher. 
When the church later moved to the Masson house, the gym equipment 
was set up there. 

Getting these people to switch from Catholicism to Methodism 
is not as simple as switching between two Protestant religions. 
The Catholic religion has been with these people since they came to 
this country. It is a part of their culture. Still, Rev. 
Breithaupt said that you don't build up Methodism by cutting down 
Catholicism. Rev. Breithaupt noted that the Methodists' job was to 
"preach the simple story of Jesus and his love, the awfulness of 
sin, the power of God to save; you do not have to spend your time 
condemning Romanism ... preach Jesus, the Lord will do the rest." 

Rev. Breithaupt wrote to the Advocate in 1911 about the lack 
of education in the pulpit. He felt that since people were 
becoming more educated, an uneducated preacher was doing them a 
disservice. He felt that some of the congregation could feed him 
spiritually. 

Rev. Hebert went down to the Bayou Blue church to help Rev. 
R.E. Martin with a four day meeting in March. Ten people joined 
the church and the "entire congregation was greatly revived." 
Three of the families had traveled forty miles by water to hear the 
gospel. Rev. Martin noted at the time that he needs some sort of 
transportation to travel the great distances along the circuit. 
His salary is so small that he cannot even afford to buy a 
pony . 

Houma's first deaconess. Miss Eliza lies, was sent to work in 
Houma and surrounding areas in 1912. She often assisted Rev. A.D. 
Martin in his rounds. The role of the deaconess was to organize 
clubs and classes and to do the house-to-house visiting . They were 
able to reach many people that the pastor could not get to. Miss 


52 


lies was an attractive woman with a pleasant, outgoing personality. 
She served the area until 1915, when she was replaced by Miss Kate 
Walker. Miss lies later became a missionary to Africa. 

The official position of deaconess had been established at the 
end of the 19th century. To be a deaconess, a woman had to 
complete the proper training and be certified by the Woman's Board 
of Home Missions. At the turn of the century, the salary of a 
deaconess was $10 a month plus board, travelling expenses, and car 
fare. She would receive a one month vacation each year. The 
official "uniform" for a deaconess consisted of a black dress, a 
bonnet with white lawn ties, and a white turnover collar and cuffs. 
It was necessary for the deaconess to pursue a continuous course of 
study and reading. 

By the end of 1912, Rev. Breithaupt had received 55 new 
members since the last conference. When he went to Bayou Blue 
(where Anatole Martin and Rev. R.E. Martin had been working) in 
October, he received 14 new members there and 3 more nearby. At 
the beginning of November, Rev. Booth came by to help with a 
meeting in Houma. Rev. Breithaupt noted that almost all of the new 
converts were formerly Catholic. 

At the December conference, the Mission Board allocated $500 
for the Houma Mission for the next year. The records show three 
churches in the Houma Mission charge. The seven Sunday Schools now 
have 375 members and 21 teachers. The Woman's Home Society had 22 
members. The first youth groups were formed in 1912. The Senior 
Epworth League had 13 members, and the Junior Epworth League had 9 
members . 

The Sunday schedule at this time* consisted of Sunday School at 
10 a.m. and Preaching Service at 11 a.m. 

A meeting was held in April 1913 that lasted for two weeks. 
The services were conducted by Rev. Breithaupt, though Rev. Hebert 
came down to preach for six of the days. On a typical night. Rev. 
Breithaupt said, seven people joined the church. 

The progress in the French Mission field was not going 
unnoticed. In 1914, Martin Hebert and C.V. Breithaupt were 
commended for their labors . . . Hebert for his work as a French 
missionary and Breithaupt for completing six years as pastor of the 
church in Houma. After visiting the area. Dr. E.H. Rawlings 
(Education Secretary for the General Board) wrote "In our whole 
church, there seems to me no work more important or more promising 
than the work being done in the Houma Mission." Mrs. R.W. 
MacDonell, in a letter to Rev. Breithaupt, wrote of the Houma 
Mission ... "you have a wonderful record." 

It has been mentioned that you had to give up dancing and 
drinking to become a Methodist. The workers in Houma decided that 
they needed some sort of social activity. In January of 1914, the 
Bayou Blue church had its first Epworth League social. It was held 
at a Mr. Brunet's house. Fifty young people were in attendance. 


53 


The social started off with singing hymns. Then they enjoyed 
several games, such as a needle threading and sewing contest and 
mock fortune- telling. Popcorn pralines were served for the snack. 
Miss Eliza lies told the story of Ruth. The evening ended with 
more singing of hymns, this time in French. 

On July 22, 1914, the church bought a piece of property (80' 
by 100' ) on the southeast corner of Goode St. and School St. from 
Mrs. C.J. Masson (Albina Foolkes ) for $2800. They paid $10 cash 
and the rest, $500 per year, at 8% interest. The witnesses 
included Clifford P. Smith, Joseph H. Pullen, and Robert B. Butler. 
Mrs. Masson had purchased this lot from Elizagone Duplantis in 
1906, who had purchased it from Miss Marie Boudreaux in 1900, who 
had purchased it from Mrs. Marie Barnardo in 1891, who had 
purchased it in 1868 from the widow of Sidney M. Goode. 

The house on the property was used as a church for the next 
seven years. Evidently it was painted green, because it was known 
as the "Little Green Church." It was also known as the 
"Tabernacle." The front porch was enclosed for more room and was 
used for Sunday School classes. Rooms in the back of the house 
were used for offices and a kitchen. It seems as though the 
Methodists always needed a kitchen. 

Rev. Breithaupt wrote to the Advocate to impress the need of 
the Houma Mission. He also thanked the Women's Board for providing 
a parsonage. Assisting Rev. Breithaupt were five exhorters and a 
local preacher. They are raising $100 from the field. But this 
still wasn't enough. He notes how one of his helpers had to sell 
his own cow to pay off $35 of the church's debt. He made an appeal 
for $500 so that Rev. A . D . Martin could preach full time. 

Rev. Breithaupt stated that the best revival Houma ever had 
took place in April of 1915. Rev. A.F. Vaughan of Franklin, La. 
assisted in the services. There were nineteen accessions, a number 
of reclamations, and a spiritual quickening of the church. After 
the meeting was over. Rev. Breithaupt was joined by Rev. Louis 
Hoffpauir for two weeks of preaching in the field. Rev. Hebert 
also came down for a few days in April. 

Rev. R.E. Martin mentioned later in 1915 that he had received 
seventeen new members into the church at Bayou Blue. He also 
reminded everyone of the problems of a local pastor . He had to 
farm for six days out of the week to provide for his family. Then 
on Sundays, he had to provide for everyone else spiritually. The 
poor crops of the last three years had hurt both his and the 
church's finances. 

The presiding elder of the Lafayette District, J.J. Hoffpauir, 
stated that the French Mission, under the leadership of Rev. Hebert 
and Rev. Breithaupt, was developing more rapidly than at any time 
in its history. 

A storm at the end of September destroyed the only Methodist 
church in the area, at Bayou Blue. This was the building that had 
been blown down in 1909, but was rebuilt. It was worth about $600. 


54 


Rev. Anatole Martin and Rev. Robert Martin were in a meeting nine 
miles below Lockport when the storm hit. No one was hurt. There 
were twenty to thirty members in that area. All twenty- five 
members of the church in Fayport lost their homes. The twenty-six 
members in the Raceland area fared better, though the wind did a 
lot of damage. Although loss of life was small, the property 
damage was immense. 

Rev. Anatole Martin received six members into the church at 
Fayport on Sept. 16, 1915. Fayport was a community located between 
Bayou Blue and Lockport. 

As of October 4, Rev. Breithaupt and Rev. A. D. Martin had 
received seventy people into the church. 

Rev. Breithaupt wrote about the area at this time. "There are 
more than 330 people living on every inhabitable square mile of 
dirt in this territory, and when you look into the faces of 100,000 
white people, you have seen 99,000 who are claimed by Romanism. 
The bayou stretches out for eighty miles with one front yard 
touching the other, the entire distance broken by only two 
plantations on the right descending bank of Lafourche. And the 
Southern Methodist Church is the only Protestant Church now 
operating in the immediate locality. " 

At the November 1915 Louisiana conference. Rev. C.V. 
Breithaupt received his last appointment to the Houma Mission. 
Rev. A. D. Martin was appointed to the Lafourche mission for the 
third year. Rev. C. Fulton Starnes was appointed to assist Rev. 
Martin as a local preacher. He came to south Louisiana from North 
Carolina. The journal stated that there was only one church in the 
charge. One other church (at Bayou Blue) had been destroyed that 
year. 

In one of his last letters before he left Houma, Rev. 
Breithaupt mentions that the revivals over the past seven years 
(assisted by the likes of Rev. Vaughan, A.W. Turner, Walter Harbin, 
Martin Hebert, and J.G. Snelling) have touched more hearts than any 
he has ever seen. People who would have never darkened the doors 
of a church were now attending services. 

So why would Rev. Breithaupt, so successful in the French 
Mission, leave Houma in 1916 before the appointment year was up? 
It seems as though his mother-in-law in Alexandria had developed a 
brain tumor. His father-in-law asked Margaretta to return home. 
That is why Rev. Breithaupt asked to leave Houma and be placed in 
Alexandria. 

A meeting of the Sunday School Board on Tuesday, April 4, 1916 
was held to replace Rev. Coleman, who had been appointed to pastor 
a church in Alexandria. Bishop Atkins was asked to appoint Rev. 
C.V. Breithaupt to immediately fill the position of Sunday School 
Field Secretary. Rev. Breithaupt accepted the position and moved 
to Alexandria. 


55 


1 


Deaconess Kate Walker, who had replaced Miss lies in 1915, was 
still serving as a pastor's assistant when Rev. Breithaupt left. 
Rev. Martin Hebert was appointed to fill in the remainder of Rev. 
Breithaupt 's term. Since he lived so far away. Miss Walker handled 
things at the Houma church when Rev. Hebert couldn’t make it to 
town. In the Woman's Missionary Council's 1917 report. Miss Walker 
noted that a reconstruction of the French work in the area was 
necessary. The funds for the French work in Houma for 1916 came 
from the Woman's Missionary Council ($600) and the Louisiana 
Conference ($320). Miss Walker noted that Rev. Breithaupt would be 
missed, for they had really depended on his leadership. There were 
a few volunteers from the Missionary Society, but they never stayed 

very long . , . , 

In a letter written in 1917, Miss Walker lamented over the 

work needed to be done. She noted that the Catholics had been 
taught from infancy to avoid other Churches as they would sin. The 

people would not come to the Methodists so "we must go to 

them." Many homes opened themselves up to a visit from the 
deaconess, but would turn away a minister. 

Mrs. Walker herself left the area in 1917, due to ill health, 
and was replaced by Miss Hooper and Mrs. White. 

In May, 1916, Rev. A. D . Martin, writing from Raceland, tells 
the Advocate that he now had six preaching places. He was joined 
recently by Rev. E.V. Duplantis, a colporter. Another preacher had 
visited with him a couple of weeks before. In both cases, they 
tried to conduct services in English and were met with contempt. 
He emphasized the need for pastors who spoke their (French) 
language. He had ten accessions of former Catholics this year. He 
noted the need for these people to find the way of salvation. The 
first step was to get French Bibles in their hands, followed by 
someone to help them understand it. 

Later that summer. Rev. Martin wrote again to inform the 
Advocate that Rev. Martin Hebert had held a revival at Raceland 
Prairie. There were seven accessions. Rev. Hebert was a great 
asset, since he could preach in both French and English. It was 
said that he preached "great sermons, accompanied with the power of 
the Holy Spirit." 


56 


Rev. G.A. Morgan: 1916-1917 

At the November 1916, Louisiana Conference, Rev. G.A. Morgan 
was appointed to Houma. The Lafourche Mission was left to be 
supplied by A.D. Martin. 

Rev. Morgan was born in Indian Bayou on August 28, 1888. 
He married Edith Hoffpauir in 1902 and had two sons. He 
joined the Louisiana Conference in 1903. He spent the 
greatest amount of time serving the Jonesboro charge. He only 
spent one year in Houma. This was possible due to his health; 
he had an asthmatic condition. But he never lost his smile or 
his gentle, unselfish nature. It was said that people saw the 
"image of Christ" reflected in his life. He had a quiet, but 
forceful personality. His sermons were strong and scholarly. 
He passed away on June 21, 1959. 

In May, 1917, Rev. Morgan wrote to the Advocate to update 
everyone on the Houma mission. An Easter revival, lasting two 
weeks, had just been completed. Rev. H. Wade Cudd of Baton Rouge 
preached two sermons a day for ten days. Rev. Hebert also came to 
preach three sermons. Rev. Morgan himself preached five times. 
Though there was a small number of accessions and conversions, the 
spiritual life of the church was renewed. Rev. Morgan noted the 
similarity of this field to a foreign mission field. The people 
spoke a different language, had many superstitions, lacked 
education, and were pressured by another religion (Catholicism). 
Still, the Methodist church was making progress. 

There were now seventy members within reach of the church. 
The Sunday School, under the leadership of Dr. J.W. Warren, was 
growing. The Wesley Bible Class had twenty members and was also 
growing. Houma had an active Women's Missionary Society with 
sixteen members. The women paid their tithes and were quite 
willing to lead in public prayer. A Senior Epworth League in May. 

The Houma charge had recently held its first quarterly meeting 
under presiding elder. Rev. H.W. May. It was noted that the 
greatest need for the Houma congregation was a good church 
building. They had been using the old Masson home as a church, but 
they were trying to raise funds for a new building. 

The year 1917 brought an important person back to Terrebonne 
Parish. If we may, let's look at the history of Ella Hooper and 
the MacDonell School. 


57 


WESLEY HOUSE and MacDONELL FRENCH MISSION SCHOOL 


Before we look at the MacDonell School, let's take a minute to 
look at the role of Woman ' s Societies and their influence on the 
Terrebonne area . . . since they were instrumental in the development 
of MacDonell. The Woman's Home Mission Society was formed in 1879. 
It sought to reach the home mission fields that may have been 
overlooked in lieu of the foreign field. It helped to open several 
training schools for women. The official position of deaconess was 

established. _ 

The major goal of the Society, as stated in the 1890 s, was to 

educate the poor and unchurched. In 1910, the Woman's Board of 
Home Missions and the Woman's Board of Foreign Missions joined to 
form the Woman's Missionary Council. 

It was the Woman's Board of Home Missions that sent the first 
two deaconesses. Miss lies and Miss Walker, to Houma. Their 
concern for the home mission field in Louisiana also led them to 
send Miss Ella Hooper and Mrs. Laura White to Houma. Under their 
leadership and support, the MacDonell French Mission School was 
formed. 

Miss Ella Keener Hooper was born on January 1, 1886 in 
Livonia, Louisiana. Due to the lack of a school or church and the 
frequent flooding, her family moved to Rosedale, Louisiana in 1893. 
Her grandfather was Rev. Samuel Hawes, who had pastored the 
Thibodaux church in the 1850 's and had preached in Terrebonne 
Parish on occasion. 

Since Rosedale only had a one— room school, most of Miss 
Hooper's elementary education was by home study. At the age of 
sixteen, she enrolled at the Louisiana State Normal School. When 
she graduated in 1905, she received her teaching certificate and 
taught at the local school for two years. But Miss Hooper's heart 
was set on mission work. She entered the Scarritt College and 
Training School in Kansas City, Missouri in 1908. Her friend and 
relative, Mrs. Christian Keener, aided her financially and 
encouraged her in her quest. After only one year at Scarritt, Miss 
Hooper had to drop out due to ill health. 

She had always dreamed of traveling to Africa or some other 
foreign land to work as a missionary, but she was rejected because 
of her poor eyesight and fragile nature. So, she applied for a 
job with the Louisiana state school superintendent. She told him, 
"I want to go to the place where the people are the poorest and 
most illiterate, where I can teach them from the books and where I 
can talk to them about their souls." He sent her to a school among 
the French people of Bayou Blue. 

Miss Hooper stayed with a local family when she first arrived 
in Houma. When the lady of the house met Miss Hooper, the first 
thing she asked was "What church do you belong to?" Miss Hooper 
answered, "I am a Southern Methodist." The French woman said. 


58 


"Thank God for that; I was afraid you would be a Protestant." The 
two women grew to be great friends, for she was to become Miss 
Hooper's interpreter on her trips down the bayou. The interpreter 
was a matronly woman who had "a smile that angels must wear." 

She became very interested in the French and Indian people of 
south Louisiana. She realized that the people were in need of a 
Christian industrial school. With the permission of the parents, 
she began reading stories from the Bible on Sundays and established 
the first Sunday Bible school groups in the area. 

After teaching in Terrebonne Parish for three years, she left 
the area and returned to her hometown of Rosedale for several years 
to regain her health. She then went to study at the University of 
Chicago. Upon completion of courses at the university, she again 
applied to Mrs. R.W. MacDonell of the Mission Board for a position 
where she could teach poor children. She was willing to work for 
no pay. Mrs. MacDonell sent her to Georgia, where Miss Hooper 
worked at Vashti School for Girls for a while. She was then 
transferred to the Martha Berry School in the mountains near Rome, 
Georgia, for a year. Miss Hooper was such a fine teacher that they 
insisted on paying her a salary. It is at this mountain school 
that she met and befriended Laura White, who was working as a 
secretary at the school. 

It was 1917; Ella Hooper had not seen Terrebonne for five 
years, but she had not forgotten the French and Indian children of 
south Louisiana. She shared her dream, of returning to Louisiana 
and starting a mission school of her own, with Mrs. White. Mrs. 
White said, "Wherever you go, I want to go with you." 

"Are you in earnest about that?" Miss Hooper asked. 

"I am" said Mrs. White. 

"Then come to my room and we will talk to God about it." 

They went to her room, got down on their knees, and prayed 
that God would help them fulfill their dream. After they finished 
praying. Miss Hooper wrote a letter to Mrs. MacDonell asking to be 
assigned to south Louisiana. 

Their prayers were answered two days later. Miss Walker, the 
deaconess assigned to Houma, had just resigned due to ill health. 
They were invited to take her place. They were instructed to "look 
over the entire field and plan the work most needed." Since in 
appeared that a school was not necessary, they modified their 
original dream . . . for now. 

Tochie MacDonell was the general secretary of the Woman's 
Council at this time. Mrs. MacDonell, a Georgian born into a 
prominent family, was married to a Methodist minister. She had 
accompanied him as a missionary to Mexico years earlier. She felt 
a special burden to address the home mission field. Mrs. MacDonell 
was connected with the Mission Board for over twenty-five years. 
She defined the scope and aim of the Woman's Home Mission Society 
as "serving humanity, building character, and saving souls." Mrs. 
MacDonell believed that the Woman's Home Mission Society was an 
"expression of the Church of that faith in religion as a social 


59 


force which makes possible the accomplishment of the ideal 
community where men are truly neighbors and love each other as 
themselves . " 

The two women arrived in Houma in September of 1917. They 
found four churches in the area. Miss Hooper and Mrs. White 
decided on Houma as the center of operations for the French work 
because of its central location. In October, they rented a small 
house on High St. across from the Methodist parsonage. The first 
two girls were Lucide and Maggie Martin, daughters of Rev. A.D. 
Martin. They were soon joined by Anaize Martin and Elizabeth 
Thompson. One of these girls, Mrs. Maggie Martin Bergeron, later 
lived and taught at the school for a number of years. After only 
a couple of months at their new home, they had received over 100 
guests. 

Miss Hooper was tall and frail. She was highly educated and 
"full of zeal ... with bright, burning eyes." She was a strict 
lady with a commanding presence who always wore a hat and 
eyeglasses. Mrs. White, a widow, was quite different. She was a 
patient woman with a larger frame. She loved to teach the Bible 
. . . whether it be to a group of children in a house in Lockport or 
to a group of French women at the Houma church on Sunday 
afternoons. Their salary was $45 a month each, most of which they 
put back into their ministry. 

They set about their work of conducting Sunday school classes, 
clubs, missionary societies, and other inspirational meetings among 
the women and children. Since the meeting places were scattered 
about Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes, the women arranged to 
obtain a Ford automobile before the end of the year. As the 1918 
Council Journal stated, "a great door is open in this section of 
the country . " 

With the addition of a car, the rural ministry of Wesley House 
began. It usually left the school on Sunday mornings loaded with 
packages of clothing from Missionary Societies from Louisiana and 
other states. The clothes were sold very cheaply or given away. 
She also brought books, magazines, pictures for children, candy, 
emergency supplies, and the class materials for lessons. Often 
guests (especially an interpreter) would accompany the ladies. If 
not, someone was usually picked up on the way and given a ride. 
The first stop would be at Bayou Blue. After morning services, an 
hour of fellowship, and lunch, they would head down the bayou 
fifteen miles to the next stop. After the second meeting, they 
would head back to Houma in time for the Epworth League meeting and 
the evening worship service. 

On Mondays, Mrs. White would teach Bible classes. On 
Thursdays and Fridays, the women would travel to missionary 
auxiliary meetings, Americanization classes, and friendly visits 
around the area . 

In the summers, they would stay out in the field for two weeks 
at a time. They would hold Bible meetings, cottage prayer 
meetings, social meetings, and missionary meetings. They would 
also engage itinerating evangelistic tours lasting three days. 


60 


Miss Hooper would hold Bible lessons and teach the children to 
read and write. For those that couldn't read, she held up 
pictures. She tried to teach them new hymns in English. After a 
while, they could sing them, but they didn't really know what they 
were singing until they learned English. If she was visiting 
people who only spoke French, she might bring an interpreter with 
her. She organized Sunday Schools up and down the bayous, as 
places such as Cedar Grove, Dulac, Point au Chien, and Lockport. 
She also conducted Woman's Society of Christian Service classes at 
Dulac, Point aux Chien, Bayou Blue, Labadieville, Raceland, and 
Lockport . . . where she taught Bible study, dietary, and nursing 
skills. 

August was the month for "institutes." Boys could attend an 
institute in the summer where they would learn about agricultural 
and industrial matters. They often took field trips to area 
businesses. The purpose of the institute was to teach the boys the 
fundamentals of physical, intellectual, spiritual, and social 
development. Girls also had institutes, often called House 
Parties. Six to ten girls were invited to the house to learn 
sewing, cooking, and other homemaking skills. The week also 
included singing lessons and Bible study. The following article 
was written by a MacDonell visitor. Miss Caroline Hess, in August 
of 1922. 


Did you ever attend a House Party? A real house party, 
for a whole week when everything was done for the pleasure of 
you and your friends? If you have, you may be able to 
appreciate how happy the thirty-two little girls who attended 
the Wesley House Party at Houma, La., were during the week of 
June 25- July 1. 

Early in the spring Miss Hooper invited me to be present. 
I went with her on June 25 to Sunday school at Point aux 
Chene. This in itself was an intereesting experience, but not 
to be compared with the interest which began there and which 
continued through the week. 

After Sunday school the girls began to climb into the 
Missionary Ford." Seldom has a Ford been privileged to carry 

a happier party four grown-ups, eight little girls, and 

seven suitcases . Need I say that many people turned to watch 
as we passed by? The Ford seemed to be as happy as any member 
of the party, however, and, singing its little song, brought 
us to the Wesley House, with its great yard, shaded by 
beautiful oaks hung with moss. In the back yard the big tent 
was all ready for us with its beds covered with white bars. 

Although the party was to begin on Monday night, we had 
twenty girls Sunday night. Not one minute of the time were 
they willing to miss. Monday we had only a few classes, 
giving the children time to get acquainted and to play. On 
Tuesday morning work began in earnest. At 6 a.m. the rising 
bell started the day. Breakfast was at 7, and at 8 we had our 
morning prayer service. At 8:30 the girls assembled on the 
front porch for a half hour of Bible Stories. The themes for 


61 


the four days were "God's Good Gifts," "God's Protecting 
Care," "God's Helpers," and "Heroes." From nine to ten 
pictures illustrating that morning's theme were chosen and 
pasted on a double fold of paper. These folds were made into 
a scrap book on the last day. 

From 10 to 10:15 was lunch hour and the ice cream, cake, 
or candy was enjoyed by all. At 10:15 we had our music 
lesson. At 11 we studied or practiced for the entertainment 
which was given in the church on Friday night. From 1:30 to 
3 was spent in sewing class and after that came an hour of 
directed play. At 4 each girl was sent to her cot for 15 
minutes of quiet and then all were allowed to dress for the 
evening. At 8 we sang songs, closing with our good-night 
prayer at 8:30. 

So the days of the House Party were spent . But what 
would a House Party be without "three meals a day." Mrs. 
White, assisted by Millie, saw that this part of the day s 
program was successfully carried out. Never once did the 
girls hesitate to "Take a Stand," and great was their delight 
when Millie led "When the Saints go Marching Home" and other 
songs sung only as a fine old negro mammy can sing them. 

Aside from the regular work, every girl knew the Twenty- 
third Psalm before the week was over . About one-third of them 
had learned the 100th Psalm. Nine knew the first twelve 
verses of John 14. They also learned five memory texts, 
between eight and twelve songs and memorized two little 
missionary plays for their entertainment. Each girl made a 
handkerchief in sewing class and some did other sewing. 

These girls, many of them, have had none or very little 
schooling. Many of them never hear a word of English in their 
homes. To watch them as they associated with the other 
children, as they comprehended and then accomplished the task 
given them, made you think of the opening of a beautiful 
flower when the warm morning ray of the sun touched it and 
brought it into its beauty. 

I wish that the wonderful work which Miss Hooper and her 
helpers are doing might be seen by many and known by all of 
our people. Surely the poet meant such work as here when he 
said, "Who gives himself with his alms feeds three: himself, 
his hungering neighbor, and me." 

The student preachers at MacDonell in those first years 
included E.V. Duplantis, James A. Knight, and Edgar Dufrene. 

By the end of 1918, the ladies were still hard at work. 
Besides the Sunday school classes, they were holding Bible classes, 
a family class, a four day institute, and a teacher training class 
for Bible memory. At the beginning of the year, very few people 
owned Bibles. Over the past twelve months, over two dozen Bibles 
had been distributed by the ladies. Of course, less than five 
percent of the adults in the rural areas can read or write ( in 
French or in English). 


62 


They found the public school doing an adequate job, as they 
had been told. But, they were very overcrowded; and they didn't 
touch the religious needs of the people. 

On March 21, 1918, a meeting was held at the "Methodist 
Mission Hall, " as the newspaper called it, to discuss the 
possibility of opening a Christian Industrial School for Girls in 
Houma. Representatives of the three Protestant religions, 
including the pastors, were at the meeting. All were in agreement 
that such a school would be a good idea. 

Miss Hooper and Mrs . White had long admired the Gagne house on 
East Main Street. It was built (probably by the Dunn family) and 
inherited by Sarah Dunn Gagne. They thought it would be an ideal 
place to have a school. Miss Hooper once remarked to Mrs. White, 
"That is an ideal place for our school. Let us ask God to help us 
get it." When they found out one day in 1919 that it was for sale, 
they wrote to Mrs. MacDonell to see if the Board could buy it. The 
money wasn't readily available, and someone else bought it. But, 
after only four days, the new owner (Mr. Adam Boquet ) and his 
family packed up their belongings and headed back to his farm. It 
is said that they were haunted by the ghost of Mrs. Sarah Gagne. 
The property was for sale again. When Mr. Desire Bergeron stayed 
in the house later, he found out that the strange noises were 
caused by squirrels dropping pecans down the gutters. It is said 
that God works in mysterious ways ... I guess he sometimes even 
uses squirrels. 

A $10,000 gift from Centenary was given to the French work. 
Mrs. J.H. McCoy, Administrative Secretary of the Eastern Division 
of the Women's Missionary Council, purchased the land (eighteen 
acres) with one house (the Gagne home) on the property. It is said 
that when Mrs. Sarah Gagne, lived in the home years before, she 
hoped that her home would go to the church to be used for the 
education of poor children. Her great-grandson noted that she had 
been a devout Methodist. She left many books on religion among her 
effects. An oak tree on the property was named after her by Miss 
Hooper . 

Years later, Mrs. Gagne's dream finally came true. The home 
was now called Wesley House. Wesley Houses were homes sponsored by 
the Methodist Church that took in young girls and helped to raise 
them in a Christian manner. 

Rev. A.D. Martin moved the furniture from the rented house on 
High St. to the new location with a wagon and two mules. There 
were five girls living at the home at this time. George LaGrange, 
his wife, and child also lived at the home while he prepared for 
work in the church. 

Miss Hooper and Mrs. White wrote to the New Orleans Christian 
Advocate to inform everyone that the Wesley House in Houma was now 
open and would welcome guests. Miss Hooper's life-long dream of 
reaching the French and Indians was now within reach. 

With the Wesley House set up in Houma, the women were 
positioned to reach all of Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes. The 
mission field was divided into two areas. One area, with Bourg at 
the center, was covered by Miss Hooper. The other area, with 


63 


Race land and Lockport as the center, was covered by Mrs. White. 
Within a year, Sunday schools, and Epworth League, and a Woman s 
Missionary Society had been organized in these locations. Miss 
Hooper wrote to the New Orleans Chri stian Advocate periodically 
over the years. Realizing that the MacDonell School relied on the 
support of the Conference, she made sure that everyone knew of 
their activities. She also encouraged guests to come for a visit, 
to see firsthand the good work being done. 

The year 1919 was the year that Miss Hooper finally became a 
deaconess. Over the years, she had kept up her education during 
her vacation periods . . . attending courses at Emory University, 
Scarritt in Nashville, Peabody, and Vandebilt. But, she could 
still not pass the physical requirements for deaconess. The 
Council decided in 1919 to appoint her a deaconess without the 
formality of passing the physical requirements. 

In February of 1921, Miss Hooper again wrote to the Advocat e. 
She noted that Miss Griffin, the new homemaker, had just arrived. 
The annual report statistics were as follows: 2737 visits made, 

2387 visits received, 45 boys and girls at the summer institutes, 
781 qarments distributed, 570 Christmas gifts distributed, 
Christmas cards and messages delivered, 6463 miles travelled m 
mission work, 778 rides given in the Missionary Ford, and 55 boxes 
received. The budget for 1921, which was supplied by the Woman s 

Missionary Council, was $3,900. 

In October of 1921, she wrote of the arrival of Miss Moselle 

Eubanks to the staff. She began work right away with the J' uni ° r 
Sunday School class, the Junior Missionary Society, and the 
Christian Endeavor Society. The summer helpers for 1921 were 
Bertha Griffin (Crowley), Elvira and Ora Hooper (Rosedale), Mrs. 
Georqe Elms (Houma), Mrs. J.W. Warren (Houma), Mr. James Grambling 
(Shreveport), Rev. E.V. Duplantis (Ville Platte), and Mr. James 
Knight (Bourg). Ora, Ella's sister, later went to school in 
Alabama and became a missionary herself. Mrs. J.H. McCoy had 

visited them and travelled around to various country points. The 
ladies worked hard at filling the Cradle Rolls. They reached fifty 
homes by the end of the year. Their slogan was, "A Family Altar in 
Every Cradle Roll Home." The Cradle Roll was kind of a preparatory 
Sunday school for infants and toddlers. 

The MacDonell Wesley Community House was dedicated in the fall 
of 1921. Dignitaries from around the state, including Bishop W.F. 
McMurry were in attendance. After a program at the Wesley House, 
the crowd walked to the Mission Hall (as the church was called) in 
downtown Houma to hear the Bishop preach. After the service, the 
bishop travelled to Raceland to dedicate their church. 

A copy of the first quarterly record for the Wesley House in 
1922 mentions several prominent guests who have visited. Miss 
Hooper always encouraged visitors to the school . The record points 
out that Leola Marcelle has just joined the school, bringing the 
total number to 12. The yearly tuition cost per child was $150. 
When they couldn't afford it, scholarships were provided by groups 
and individuals from around the state. For example, Odette 

Martin had a scholarship from Noel Memorial in Shreveport and Leola 


64 


Marcelle had a partial scholarship from a Mrs. R.F. Harrell of 
Tallulah. A new Missionary Society of 13 boys and 3 girls had been 
formed under the leadership of Miss Eubanks. 

Miss Effie K. Fauver arrived in the summer of 1922. She was 
in charge of the supervising work in the home and meals. She 
taught the first, second, and third grades and a part of the fourth 
in the mornings. In the afternoon, she taught industrial classes 
such as sewing and laundry. The work did not stop even on Sundays. 
She had a teacher training class at Sunday school . She was in 
charge of the boys' quiet time from two to four o'clock. On Sunday 
evenings there were two League meetings and the worship service. 

Sunday schools and missionary societies were now being held in 
six locations. The ladies were helping pastors and evangelists 
with revivals under a gospel tent. 

Each year the Methodist women would hold a Week of Prayer to 
raise money for missionary purposes. In 1922, Miss Hooper made a 
request for more money to expand the school . Since there was money 
left from the previous year, the money ($24,000) was allocated to 
construct new buildings at Wesley House. The contract to build the 
school was awarded to the Montague Construction Company, of 
Abbeville. Two buildings were completed by 1923: the dormitory and 
school building for boys and girls, and the McCoy Building which 
contained the kitchen and dining room. The furniture and equipment 
(and their maintenance) was paid for by the Women's Missionary 
Society of the Louisiana Conference. A garage, dairy barn, and 
poultry house were built over the next few years. With 
construction of the new buildings, Wesley House was now a school. 

It was named the MacDonell French Mission School, after former 
secretary Tochie MacDonell. The boys' activities would include 
painting, carpentry, gardening, dairying, and raising poultry. The 
girls' activities would include sewing, cooking, washing, ironing, 
typing, music lessons, and general homemaking. Students usually 
joined the Methodist Church shortly after joining the school. The 
ladies would march the MacDonell students down Main Street to the 
Methodist church on Sundays. Later a chapel was built on the 
campus . 

By 1923, the enrollment at the school increased to 24. Daily 
Vacation Bible School began in the early 1920 's. The average 
attendance was over one hundred. It drew from fifteen different 
communities in the area. Miss Louise Searcy joined the staff this 
year. She taught fifth grade in the mornings and sewing in the 
afternoon. On Sundays, she taught a junior class in Sunday school. 

Mrs. White was still keeping busy. She held week-day Bible 
classes for women, worked in the office, taught sight singing, 
handled the cradle roll department, organized Vacation Bible 
Schools, and travelled around the state to present their work to 
missionary societies. Mrs. White's favorite task, holding week-day 
Bible classes in private homes, was going well. There were 56 
babies on the Cradle Roll. She also spent a lot of time in the 
field. 


65 


There was a change in staff for 1924. Mr. H.M. Scott and Miss 
Lois Hammett came as teachers. Miss Hammett had recently graduated 
from the Methodist Orphanage in Ruston. Miss lone Gandy became the 
new housekeeper. The enrollment at the school for 1924-1925 was 
36, with ages ranging from eight to twenty years old. The budget 
was now at almost $9,000. The first Standard Training School was 
held in August at the school. 

Standard Training Schools were held for the entire district. 
Attendance was requested of ministers, church officers, Sunday 
school teachers, Epworth Leaguers, members of Missionary Societies, 
and anyone interested in the educational program of the church. 
The meeting was six days long. 

In a 1925 bulletin on the MacDonell School, Miss Ella Hooper 
describes the typical rural Terrebonne Parish home as follows. 
"The houses are mostly unpainted, unattractive, two-room shacks, 
with heavy cypress doors and windows, which are kept wide open in 
winter to let in a little warmth from the sunlight, and tightly 
closed in summer to keep out the mosquitoes. There is always a 
small gallery across the front of the house where the family 
washing is done, and as many other home activities as the space 
allows. The front room is usually large and contains two to four 
beds, according to the size of the family, an old-fashioned bureau, 
an armoire, a sewing machine, and two or more chairs, which are 
often home-made. A few saint pictures and images ornament the 
walls and perhaps some enlarged family portraits. The room in the 
rear is the kitchen, dining room, and living room. At the back of 
the room is a great open fireplace with a dirt chimney. Near by is 
the cook stove with the coffeepot already on it, a home-made table 
covered with brown oilcloth, a safe and some wooden benches. On 
the back porch, if there is one, and near the cistern, is a shelf 
on which stands a small granite wash pan, some soap and a coarse 
towel, which constitute the family bathing facilities. The small 
front yard is a mass of bloom and the back yard a mud hole and pig 
wallow. " 

So, what kind of children went to the MacDonell School? 
Generally they were children that Miss Hooper would meet on her 
trips up and down the bayous. Most came from Terrebonne and 
Lafourche Parishes, though quite a few came from other areas of the 
state. She found young people who desired to learn or were in need 
of the school's assistance. Two examples are the stories of Tom 
and Velia. 

Tom and his family lived on a houseboat down the bayou. One 
day, Tom accidentally fell into the bayou. His mother jumped in 
and rescued him, but she drowned in the process. His father, a 
trapper, was left alone with Tom and his little sister. With no 
mother to care for him, Tom soon became so covered with a skin 
disease that his skin looked like brown leather. Tom's father 
heard about the school Miss Hooper was operating and took the boy 
to Houma. Within a few weeks at the school, Tom had regained a 
healthful appearance. He soon became one of Miss Hooper's 
favorites at the school. After graduation, he entered the 
military. Tom is still a member of the Methodist Church today. 


66 


Velia also lived down the bayou at Point au Chien. She was 
familiar with Miss Hooper and looked forward to her visits. Her 
older sister was invited by Miss Hooper to attend MacDonell. Velia 
wanted to go too, but her mother said that she was needed at home. 
Nevertheless, Velia was determined to go. One day, when Miss 
Hooper came by, Velia got on board the Missionary Ford and went to 
MacDonell. Though her mother didn't want her to go, she let her 
stay at MacDonell. Velia, the little girl who "ran away" to go to 
school, eventually graduated from high school and left MacDonell 
when she got married. She, too, is still a member of the Methodist 
Church today. 

Miss Lucy Kagey was added to the staff in 1925. She taught 
the fourth and fifth grades in the morning and boys industrial 
classes in the evening. As Miss Kagey said, it was necessary to 
teach them how to make better homes, but "each contact is an 
opportunity to teach Jesus Christ." 

Miss Lillie Schack joined the staff in 1926. She taught the 
first, second, and third grades in the morning and boys' industrial 
classes in the afternoon. 

Mrs. Downs, the Administrative Secretary at that time, secured 
a $9,000 gift from Centenary in 1927. It was used for improvements 
and to purchase two more acres of land. An adjacent home was 
bought to use for the younger girls. They named it Hope Cottage, 
because they had long hoped they could buy it. It later burned 
down when a teacher left a paint can too close to a heater. 

By 1929, the school's enrollment was up to 63. Miss Hooper 
mentioned in the Council report that "gris-gris" was causing some 
students to drop out. Gris-gris was the Cajun equivalent of voo- 
doo or black magic. One could go on and on with the stories of 
superstition. The Acadians had mixed the superstitions with the 
Catholic faith. The Methodists debunked all such superstitions, 
making their acceptance difficult for some natives who were 
familiar with the old ways. 

The rural work was now reaching out to four parishes. The 
students were now helping out with Junior Missionary Societies. 
Deaconesses Mattie Lou Neal and Muriel Bell joined the staff this 
year. Miss Bell was an R.N. who came to care for the medical needs 
of the school . 

Deaconess Lillie J. Hendricks joined the staff in 1930. Most 
of her time was spent at the Wesley House. It served as the "home" 
building for the students during their social hours. Miss 
Hendricks was the supervisor of classroom instruction. 

Miss Ruth Wyche and deaconess Myrta Davis joined the staff in 
1931. Miss Wyche served as the superintendent of the school during 
the absence of Miss Hooper, who had gone down to Dulac to work with 
the Indians. The enrollment stood at 62. The school work covered 
second through ninth grade. Students above the ninth grade level 
went to Terrebonne High School. The teachers were still faced 
with the problem that the new students could only speak French. 
Gradually, they would pick up enough French to get them by until 


67 


the students learned English. Vacation Bible Schools were 
expanding, now being held in five locations around the area. 

Miss Hooper returned as superintendent in 1932. Other 
teachers on staff included deaconesses Elizabeth Covington, Shiela 
Nut tall, Lillie J. Hendricks, Emma Vogel, and Ollie Willings. Miss 
Covington, a music teacher, found that the children are by nature 
musical. Miss Vogel worked as a nurse. Miss Nuttall had been 
raised in Louisiana. She noted that she had never realized that 
such a need existed in our state. Miss Willings stated that before 
she came, she wondered where her missionary work would come in. 
After a short while in the parish, she stated that "there cannot be 
a greater field than the one found here. Even though the teachers 
had a full week at the school, they were still travelling to the 
rural areas on the weekends and in the summer . 

In 1932, MacDonell was again the recipient of the Week of 
Prayer money. Keener Hall, a girls' dormitory, was added to the 
MacDonell School with the funds. It served as a girls dormitory 
and infirmary. 

Deaconess Bessie Williams was added to the staff in 1933. She 
was the librarian and taught high school English. 

The enrollment of the school was up to 90 by 1935. Deaconess 
Pearlye Maye Kelley joined the staff that year. After a two year 
absence, deaconess Elizabeth Covington returned to the staff. 

By 1936, there were twelve adult workers at MacDonell. The 
newest addition was Miss Susie Teel. She taught the fourth grade, 
which included students aged nine to fifteen. Upon her arrival in 
September, she stated "I was impressed with the beauty of the 
place. The campus is an enchantment. I found here a veritable 
beehive of devoted, loyal men and women, busily engaged in their 
several tasks of directing the studies and other activities of the 
various groups. The work of the campus and the local church forms 
the center of activities which extend for miles into adjacent needy 
communities. I love and enjoy the work and count it a ^high 
privilege to share in this most worthwhile field of service." 

By 1938, the MacDonell School curriculum had expanded to 
include all grades from elementary to the high school level. The 
enrollment was larger than ever, and there was a long waiting list. 
New personnel added this year included deaconess Anna Fay Fowler, 
Mabel K. Harrell, Annie Law, and David Paul Smith. There were 
directed playground activities twice a week. A social event or 
outing was held at the school each Friday evening. Each day 
started with services in the chapel. The older students were 
actively helping out with the missionary work in rural areas. 
Plans were being made to build the Houma Heights Church on property 
at the back of the MacDonell School. This meant that the students 
would not have to walk all the way to the church in Houma. A 
pastor, Oakley Lee, had already been assigned and was holding 
services in the school ' s chapel . 


68 


Downs' Hall, a kitchen and dining hall, was added to the 
MacDonell Home in 1940. It was named after Mrs. J.W. Downs. Mrs. 
Downs was the administrative secretary for the Woman's Missionary 
Council at that time. 

From 1949 to 1953, the function of MacDonell changed from that 
of a boarding school to a school for Indians. MacDonell ceased 
operations as a school in 1953 and became a home for dependent 
children. The children who stayed there attended the public 
schools. 

Miss Ella Hooper left the MacDonell School in 1949 to help her 
sister, Wilhemina, at the Indian school in Dulac. The Woman's 
Division, which was taking over responsibility of the Dulac 
Mission, began work on a school building in 1950. Miss Ella Hooper 
moved into the unfinished building to help to get the building and 
grounds in shape. 

In August 1951, Miss Ella Hooper retired at the age of sixty- 
five and moved back to Rosedale. Mrs. Laura White, the co- founder 
of MacDonell School, had left a few years earlier; because of poor 
health, she went to a nursing home in New Orleans. 

Ada W. Dail succeeded Miss Hooper as the director of MacDonell 
in August of 1951. Other directors through the years include Julia 
Ried (1950), Nettie Thornton (1950-1954), Velma Lee Hair (1954), 
Anne Coucoules (1954-1957), Maude Bristol (1957-1958), Harry Ezell 
(1958-1960), and John Howe (1960-1969). G.J. Bridges has been the 
director since 1969. 

The Ella K. Hooper Cottage was dedicated at the MacDonell 
Methodist Center. Miss Hooper was present for the ceremonies. 
Shortly after. Miss Ella K. Hooper passed away on June 28, 1967 in 
her home in Rosedale at age eighty- five. 

Presently, MacDonell is a therapeutic residential facility for 
school age children. It is still owned by the Women's Division of 
the Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church. It 
is now known as MacDonell United Methodist Children's Services. 


69 


Rev. Franklin J. McCoy: 1917-1927 

Franklin J. McCoy was assigned to replace Rev. Morgan at the 
Houma charge, which now had 80 members. He would spend the next 
ten years here in Houma. There was one church (Bayou Blue) in the 
charge and one parsonage (in Houma). The Lafourche Mission had 48 
members, while the rest of the French Mission had 225 members. 

Rev. Franklin Jay McCoy was born on August 28, 1882 in 
Winchester, Kansas. His family was one of the five families 
in the "Wagon Train Party" that moved to southwest Louisiana 
in 1890. Brother Mac, as he was called, was a hard worker and 
enjoyed working with his hands. He used his skills in 
carpentry, plumbing, and farming to help build our church, as 
well as to help raise extra money to live on. One of his jobs 
to help put food on the table was working on the installation 
of the gas pipeline in Houma for his friend, J.H. Thatcher. 

He was a man of the people; the kind of person that you 
couldn't help but like. He was a large man with a deep voice. 
He enjoyed singing. While in college at Centenary, he was on 
the football team. His speaking style was not the greatest, 
but the sincerity of his sermons captivated his congregations. 
His sermons were practical and conversational. Rev. McCoy was 
also very supportive of the native/local pastors. He would 
also walk around town to visit his congregation on Mondays. 

Rev. McCoy's wife, Lucy, was loved by everyone. She was 
as small as her husband was big. A soft-spoken woman, she 
knew how to look past the trivial things that annoy most 
people and concentrate on the important things in life. Lucy 
taught Sunday School, sang in the choir, and was a member of 
the Missionary Society. She always referred to her husband as 
"Dearie." Although she was ill herself, she managed to 
survive to take care of him. She died two months after he 
did. 

Rev. McCoy served around the state. His longest stay by 
far was in Houma, where he spent ten years. A heart attack 
during his appointment at LeCompte in the mid-1940's forced 
him to retire from the pulpit. After spending time recovering 
in Lafayette and Dry Creek, the McCoy's moved near Crowley. 
Rev. McCoy took up gardening and raising chickens. He also 
served as the visiting minister at the nearby Methodist 
Church. Rev. McCoy passed away in February of 1966. As Dr. 
B. Joseph Martin said in a memorial. Brother Mac lived his 
life with an exclamation point! 

In April, 1917, Rev. A . D . Martin, writing from Raceland, tells 
the Advocate that he now had eleven preaching places, not including 
Houma. He notes that Rev. Morgan is doing an excellent job in 
Houma. He goes on to mention the "superstitions" that the Catholic 
people had . . . including holy water, holy candles, holy pieces of 


70 


grass (to save them from fire, thunder, or drowning). Some of the 
men have raised families for forty years without getting married 
and didn't know it was wrong until they heard a French Methodist 
preacher . 

The Methodist church in Gibson was still being used by the 
Episcopalians. A Houma Times article dated December 15, 1917 
states that Rev. Davis Sessums, the Episcopal bishop of Louisiana, 
would preach at "St. Anna's Mission" in Gibson the next day. 


At the 1919 Louisiana Conference, Martin Hebert was the 
presiding elder of the Houma District. For a short time, the 
circuits around the French Mission were known as the Houma 
District. Rev. F.J. McCoy was appointed to Houma for the third 
year. Houma had 65 members. Rev. A.J. Martin was appointed to the 
Lockport charge for the second year. The Lockport church had 81 
members and one church building. Local preachers serving the 
district out of Bourg were A.D. Martin and R.E. Martin. The Bayou 
Blue church had 90 members. 

In an article to the New Orleans Christian Advocate on January 
29, 1919, Rev. A.J. Martin wrote from the church at Lockport. He 
relayed the situation "down the bayou." Rev. Martin states that he 
is living in a rented house and is preaching out of the front room 
of that house. He notes that the people are hesitant to come to 
hear him for fear of excommunication from the Catholic church. 
After all, the Catholic church has been here "forever." The 
Methodists don't have a church, a cemetery, and haven't been here 
for long. A man recently died and Rev. Martin prayed over him. 
Because of this, the priest refused to officiate the funeral ... 
and grudgingly allowed him to be buried in the Catholic cemetery 
(only because it was the only one around). Rev. Martin says that 
we need to put down roots so that the people will have confidence 
in Methodism. The only church along the Bayou Lafourche is at 
Raceland, though he visits several preaching places where people 
allow him to use their homes. 

In that same year. Rev. A.D. Martin wrote from the church at 
Bayou Blue. He was trying to get Methodists elsewhere to 
understand that the mission field in south Louisiana was as 
"backwards" as mission fields abroad. He writes about the 
practices of Catholics in the areas. When someone was sick, the 
priest would hang prayer beads around the bed. Sometimes someone 
would have to stay up all night to keep holy candles burning. A 
piece of grass in the shape of a cross was sprinkled with salt and 
burned to keep them from being hurt in storms. He states that many 
teenagers have never been inside a church. The young people can't 
read or write. They spend their Sundays fishing or hunting or 
fighting. 

The Catholic Church continued to be a hindrance to the spread 
of Methodism. Rev. LaGrange told of how the Catholic priests held 
the Methodists up as an example of people who support their church 
because they like it. Then, when the people wanted to go to the 
Methodist church to see for themselves what they were missing, the 


71 


priest would warn them. He'd say, "Didn't I tell you not to go to 
that church, for our church is the oldest and only church. I will 
not give you absolution, neither will I bury you when you die." 
That was what the people, whose families had been Catholic for 
hundreds of years, had to face if they thought about attending a 
Methodist service. 

At the 1920 conference, the Houma District was now called the 
French Mission District once again. Rev. A.D. Martin was sent to 
Lydia. K.F. Martin was to serve the Bayou Circuit as a supply. 
Rev. A. J. Martin was sent to Port Barre and St. Martin. Rev. McCoy 
stayed in Houma, assisted by five local preachers: R.E. Martin, 
E.V. Duplantis, Jas. A. Knight, Edgar Dufrene, and Aristide Brulet. 
Houma had grown to 80 members and Bayou Blue had 105. 

The Houma District held a rally for the youth on June 20, 
1920, at the Houma Church. The State Superintendent of Young 
Peoples' work presided over the program. The youth organization at 
this time was known as the Epworth League. There was a senior 
division for the high school age and a junior division for junior 
high age. A traditional Epworth League meeting consisted of 
singing, a program, and devotions. They had a book to use for some 
of the songs and the devotions . The League would meet on Friday 
nights for social get-togethers. One of the presidents of the 
Epworth League around this time was B. Joseph "Buddy" Martin, son 
of Rev. A.D. Martin, who would later enter the ministry himself. 
Buddy Martin also worked as a janitor for the Red Brick church for 
a while for $10 a month. 


72 


CHAPTER 5 


THE RED BRICK CHURCH 


As of April 28, 1921, the Houma church had received sixteen 
members for the conference year. They received the second bids on 
the new church, the lowest being $17,500, in April. This is still 
higher than they could afford. Rev. McCoy wrote to the Advocate 
and stated that if the crops were good, they would be able to build 
that fall. The membership was at ninety-three. The Houma church, 
however, was still a mission church. Rev. McCoy said that if they 
had a good building, they could be a self-supporting church in ten 
years . 

Rev. McCoy's car was destroyed in a fire that spring. The 
members of the congregation bought him a Ford. They also spent 
$100 on the parsonage. The women in the church would raise money 
to keep up the parsonage. For example, they saved Octagon soap 
coupons and bought a set of wicker furniture for the parsonage. 

Eventually they took the plunge and started building. The 
contract was signed in October. Rev. McCoy had secured a donation 
of $5000 and a loan of $5000 from the General Board of Church 
Extension in 1919. The church members pledged $2000 over the next 
five years towards the building. The extra money that they needed 
was obtained when they sold the bulk of the property on High 
Street. They kept the parsonage at 814 High Street. 

The building cost $15,400; the lighting fixtures and seats 
were extra. The entire church and lot eventually cost about 
$20,000. The "Little Green Church" was torn down to build the Red 
Brick Church. During the construction, the Methodists accepted 
Rev. Blackburn's invitation to worship with the Presbyterians. The 
cornerstone of the new church was laid sometime between Christmas 
and Epiphany. Inside the cornerstone was placed a Bible. It is 
not known if anything else was put inside. 

The Red Brick Church was built in two levels. Downstairs were 
the rooms used for Sunday School and a small kitchen. To get to 
the sanctuary, you had to climb one of the two flights of stairs in 
front of the church. A small room was located at the top between 
the two sets of stairs. Two aisles divided the wooden pews into 
three sections. The pews weren't installed until 1924. The piano 
was located on the left side of the church. In the front of the 
church was a raised platform. There was a semicircular altar rail 
with cushions to kneel on. The altar was behind this. Behind the 
altar stood the pulpit. The choir was located behind the pulpit. 


The opening service was held at 11 a.m. on the first Sunday in 
April. Dr. R.L. Russell, of the Mission Board, preached two 
sermons that day to a packed house. The offering for the day was 
$70. Six new members joined the church. There were 107 in Sunday 
School . 


73 


With all of this happening, they still were reaching out to 
the rest of the parish. Rev. McCoy travelled to Labadieville on 
Saturday and Point aux Chien on Sunday afternoon. 

At the end of the year. Rev. Martin Hebert, who was the 
presiding elder, was appointed to serve Lockport, Raceland, and 
Bayou Blue. R.E. Martin and J.A. Knight were local preachers 
working out of Bourg. Edgar Dufrene was a local preacher based in 
Houma. He assisted Rev. McCoy with the congregation of 100 
members. K.F. Martin was also serving as a local preacher, holding 
services along the bayou from Labadieville to Point aux Chene. 

Through the years, pastors had been preaching at private homes 
at the community of Point aux Chene. A church was organized in 
1918 with a membership of 21. A vacant home, arranged as a church, 
was used for two services a day. There was even a choir with 20 
young people who sang in both French and English. 

Ernest and Augustine Levron donated a piece of land on Bayou 
Point aux Chene to the Bayou Blue Methodist Church. The president 
at that time was Rev. Robert E. Martin of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church, South. A small church was built in 1922. The Point aux 
Chene church was a small building with a steeple. There was a door 
in the front and a door by the pulpit. There was also a small 
piano in the corner. It was served by Miss Hooper and Rev. A.D. 
Martin in the early days. In the 1940's, it was torn down and the 
lumber used in the construction of a church at Bayou Blue. 

The district lines were changed in 1922 and Houma was now in 
the New Orleans District. At the end of the year, G.A. LaGrange 
was appointed to serve the Bayou Blue charge. He had been staying 
at the MacDonell School. Within a few months, he had opened up two 
or three new preaching points. He was ready for a church at one 
point, where the membership of 75 was meeting in a house. Later 
on. Rev. LaGrange 's second wife gave his church $800 and a 
communion set. In return, they named the church after LaGrange. 
The LaGrange church building later became the Bayou Blue church. 

Before the Houma District was absorbed into the New Orleans 
District, a district meeting was held. Held in August of 1922, it 
was led by Rev. Martin Hebert, the presiding elder. The pastors in 
attendance were F.J. McCoy (Houma), George LaGrange (Bayou Blue), 
C.W. Lahey (Melville), E.V. Duplantis (Ville Platte), A.D. Martin 
(Lydia), J.A. Knight (Lockport), A.J. Martin (St. Martinville ) , 
Edgar Dufrene (assistant pastor at Lydia), A.M. Serex (assistant 
pastor at Houma), Gilbert Bergeron (assistant pastor at Bayou 
Blue), and local preachers P.E. Martin (Bourg) and K.F. Martin 
(Bourg). Four young men were licensed to preach at the meeting: 
Luke Henry Richard, Clerville J. Thibodeaux, Adrien M. Serex, and 
Leslie North. Also, James A. Knight and C.W. Lahey were 
recommended for admission to the Louisiana Conference. 

Though the others were from Louisiana, Rev. A.M. Serex was 
from Switzerland. He was attending school at Emory University and 
was assigned to the Louisiana Conference. He was preparing for the 
ministry that he would practice when he returned to Belgium. 


74 


Dr. Guy Wilson, an evangelist from Boston, and several other 
visiting pastors preached sermons during the meeting. Even Rev. 
J.N. Blackburn of the Houma Presbyterian Church and Dr. G.L. Tucker 
of the Houma Episcopal Church were present. Much was said about 
the encouraging work being done by the Methodists in the area. 

The new church building in Houma was now serving 126 members. 
By the end of 1922, the membership was over 150. The Houma church 
had one Sunday School with 117 members. It also had a Mothers' 
class, in which were enrolled the mothers of children on the Cradle 
Roll. The Mothers' class had a motto, "Family prayer in every 
home . " 


Evangelism meetings were still very popular. A two week 
meeting was held in January of 1923. Services were conducted by 
Rev. D.L. Patterson, a conference evangelist, and Rev. A.J. 
Notes tine, the song leader. Rev. McCoy reported twenty- five new 
applications for membership by the middle of the second week. 

A couple of months later, on Easter Sunday, eighteen new 
members were added. Since the Red Brick Church was built, seventy- 
five members joined the church rolls. It was written that the 
Houma church reported the largest per capita contribution of any 
church in the Conference. They even voluntarily raised Rev. 
McCoy's salary. 

Rev. A . D . Martin was returned to the Lafourche area in 1923. 
He found that "a great work is to be done on Bayou Lafourche." 
Within the first year, he had opened up six new preaching places. 
He was still trying to reach the Catholic natives. He said it was 
hard work, but little by little he was having success. By 1924, 
plans for churches at Labadieville and Griffin were being 
made. 

A 1926 newspaper article states that the ladies of the 
Methodist Church will give their Annual Thanksgiving Bazaar on 
November 24 at the church. Supper will be served, and there will 
be a sale of cakes, candies, pies, and other desserts. 


75 


Rev. Benjamin Harris Andrews: 1927-1932 

Rev. Benjamin Harris Andrews was appointed to fill Rev. 
McCoy's shoes in Houma. Rev. McCoy moved to the other end of the 
state to West Monroe. Rev. Andrews was to serve here for five 
years. He had a wife and one child while here in Houma. 

Rev. Andrews was born in Greenville, Illinois on June 10, 
1887. He came to Louisiana as a student at Centenary College. 
At his first charge in Gonzales, he met and married Josephine 
Gonzales. She was an attractive woman and a devoted wife and 
helpmate during his ministry. They had two sons. 

It was known that Rev. Andrews was very interested in 
bringing the Gospel to the French Mission field. He spent 
five years of his ministry doing so. He was a strong preacher 
and a good administrator. Though his sermons may not have 
been humorous, they went straight to the point. 

Rev. Andrews always smoked a pipe. Perhaps this is what 
led to the heart attack that eventually did him in on December 
23, 1948. Every time Rev. Andrews would go to the MacDonell 
School, he could be seen emptying his pipe when he got to the 
gate. Miss Hooper, you see, didn't allow smoking. 

To organize the Methodists in the area. Rev. Andrews was asked 
to be the unofficial leader of the churches of the area. It is 
said that he wanted this position so that the reports would be 
impressive. He had thoughts of being a presiding elder one day. 
He told the French preachers to make all of their reports through 
him. Some of the local pastors, however, took umbrage with this. 

R ev , Andrews was very effective in working with the young 
people. He could often be found taking a group of boys fishing. 
He also got them to help him work on the church, the parsonage, or 
the MacDonell School. It is remembered, however, that Rev. Andrews 
refused to allow the boys to read the comic papers. It was during 
Rev. Andrews tenure that the downstairs of the church was 
departmentalized. The parsonage was also enlarged. 

A March 24, 1928 issue of the Houma Times describes a St. 
Patrick's Day Party by the Houma Epworth League held at MacDonell. 
They played games. Everything was decorated in green ... even the 
food. There was green punch, green iced cakes, and green candy. 
Boys wore green caps made by the girls. Girls wore green aprons 
made by the boys. 

There was a bad hurricane in August of 1926 that flooded most 
of the parish. An extensive flood covered the parish soon after. 
It was the intensive aid that the Methodists gave the Dulac 
Indians, especially in times of trouble, that helped in their 
conversion to Methodism. Within twenty years, one out of every 


76 


five Indians would be a Methodist. This incident would also lead 
to a school formed there in 1932. 

A number of churches have been built in Terrebonne and 
Lafourche by the early 1930 's. They were usually small in size, 
the only large church in the area being the one in Houma. The 
circuit was known as the Houma-French Mission Charge. The pastors 
working in these areas were supported by the Home Dept, of the 
Board of Missions. The salary was less than $100 a month. 
Converting the people in remote places had been successful because 
the Catholic influence was not as strong there. Later, when these 
rural folk moved closer to town, they helped to build up the church 
in Houma. Periodic camp meetings are held in the rural 
communities. The attendance at these tent meetings was usually 
good . Many of those that wouldn ' t enter a Protestant church had no 
problems with going to a meeting under a tent. 

The presiding elder was at the Bayou Blue church for a 
Quarterly Conference (which was held in a home) at this time. He 
was asked if he'd rather the heat or the mosquitoes, because they 
hadn't any screens. He chose the heat and all of the windows and 
doors were shut. One article Rev. Andrews wrote in 1930 was 
entitled, "Listening to the Gospel Amid Mud and Mosquitoes." 

Assisting Rev. Andrews as junior preachers were Rev. A.D. 
Martin and Rev. A.M. Martin. They would take care of the 
congregations "down the bayous." 

Rev. Alban Mitchell Martin was born on September 10, 1896 
at Bayou Blue. As a youth he would play the piano in the 
Bayou Blue church. He was the son of Robert and Oct avia 
Martin. He met his wife Eva while at Cincinnati Bible 
College. He returned to Louisiana and became a Methodist 
minister in 1924 and served the Acadiana area for forty-two 
years. He would often bring his folding organ with him when 
he held services in people's homes. He also liked to beautify 
churches and church grounds. He loved nature and gardening. 
Rev. Martin was compassionate and ever cheerful. He was not 
a great orator, but he loved to preach the Gospel. He was 
never without his Methodist Book of Worship and Hymnal. He 
passed away on June 9, 1967. 


77 


Rev. J.W. Booth: 1932-1936 

In 1932, Rev. Andrews was replaced by Rev. J.W. Booth. Rev. 
Booth served the Houma area for four years. He was remembered as 
a slow speaker who would sometimes shed tears when delivering his 
sermons. He was short of stature, but tall on kindness. It was 
said that he was often heard telling tales about his wife that she 
might not have taken so lightly. It was noted that the Boy Scouts 
would meet at the church at this time. Rev. Booth used to visit 
the congregation regularly. 

Rev. J.W. Booth was born on February 2, 1874 in 
Mississippi. He married Miss Mamie Lott on June 8, 1904. She 
was a quiet but supportive minister's wife who was fond of 
travel. Her tranquility contributed to the success of his 
ministry. They had three children. One of the sons, Luther, 

became a Methodist minister. 

Rev. Booth led a deeply spiritual life. His sermons were 
not the most eloquent ever spoken; but they showed his 
sincerity and love of Christ. He spoke to your heart. It was 
said that after one of his services, you "felt" like you had 
been to church. He was well loved by the people. Most of his 
forty-three years of ministry were spent in Baton Rouge and 
New Orleans. Rev. Booth passed away unexpectedly on March 25, 
1947 in Baton Rouge. 

Rev. Clerville J. Thibodeaux was appointed as the French 
preacher to the area, a post he would serve for several years. 


Rev. Thibodeaux was born in Labadieville in 1894. He and 
his wife Avelie were converted from Catholicism to Methodism 
through the efforts of Rev. Eugene Barrios. His wife was 
known to fill in for him in the pulpit when C.J. was ill* 
Later, when his first wife died. Rev. Thibodeaux remarried 
Edna Barrios, Eugene's daughter. Licensed as a local preacher 
in 1922, he was appointed to serve as a supply to the French 
Mission. Most of his thirty-seven year ministry was spent in 
the French Mission area. Rev. Thibodeaux lived a righteous 
life. It was said that he was an ideal pastor, especially in 
personal evangelistic work. He even got along with the Roman 
Catholics, who were willing to help him. He passed away in 
Labadieville on June 29, 1967. 

Spurred on by a big revival in Golden Meadow in March, 1933, 
a church was built there that summer. Pastored by Rev. A.M. 
Martin, there were 60 members by the end of the year. Rev. Booth 
wrote to the Advocate to ask if someone would donate a piano to the 
Golden Meadow church. 


78 


One special Sunday in 1934 was "Houma Day, " when money was 
raised throughout the Conference for the French Mission of Houma. 

Starting at the corner of Main and Church Streets, Houma 
finally got paved streets in 1936. For many years before that, 
crushed oyster shells were used to cover the streets. It would 
still be many years before the outlying roads of the parish were 
paved . 

In 1935, as previously mentioned, Clanton's Chapel was built 
at Dulac. The Methodist Church was in Dulac to stay, despite a 
reward from someone who offered "$500 to run the Methodists out of 
Dulac ! " 

Let's take a moment to look at the history of the Methodist 
Church among the Indians of Dulac. 


79 


DULAC INDIAN MISSION 


As previously mentioned. Miss Ella Hooper left the MacDonell 
School for a while to work in Dulac with the Indians. Mr. George 
DeForest and his wife, from Akron, Ohio, had been sent by the 
Missionary Council to work with the Dulac Indians. Miss Hooper 
went to help them out. They would travel by boat to Dulac, teach 
the remainder of the day, stay overnight, teach the next morning, 
and then return to their home. They did this because it took quite 
a while to row the boat the necessary four miles each way. The 
community of Dulac was two miles below the end of the 

They had been having Methodist preaching services since 1912 
whenever a preacher, usually A.D. Martin, could make it. In 
addition. Miss Ella Hooper had been visiting them for years to hold 
Bible classes and distribute clothes and other goods. So many of 
the Indians were already familiar with the Methodists. Mrs. 
DeForest discovered that Miss Hooper had a sister, Wilhelmina, who 
taught school in Rosedale. She sent her an invitation to come for 
two weeks "to teach until the trapping season started." She came 
for a two week visit and ended up staying 33 years, until her 
retirement in 1965. She didn't even receive a salary until 1953. 
She later said, "I was not a missionary or a radical; I was a 
trained teacher, and there was a need for a trained teacher. So I 
stayed." With her sister in charge, Ella went back to MacDonell. 

Miss Wilhelmina was known as "Miss Hoppy" to the children. 
She was thin and wore glasses, just like her sister Ella. Over the 
years, her skin bacame tanned from her many walks along the bayou 
and her English had a tint of a French accent. 

The first class began on October 1, 1932. There were 75 
students, ages six through twenty. Everyone was in the first 
grade, since none of them had ever been to school before. Classes 
were held in an old-fashioned, high ceiling overseer's home that 
Miss Hooper taught and lived in. Sometimes, classes were held out 
on the porch or in the yard under an oak tree. Besides teaching 
school, the Methodist workers would teach religious classes twice 
a week. The school was for all Indians, regardless of their 
religious beliefs. Miss Wilhelmina Hooper was assisted in the 

early days by a Miss Hoffpauir. 

Miss Ella Hooper went to the school board to get their help. 
Indians weren't allowed in public school at that time. They asked 
Miss Hooper to survey the area to see how many Indians were 
involved. She found 300 possible students, only 75 of which were 
attending the Methodist school . The school board suggested that 
Miss Wilhelmina Hooper continue her operation of the Methodist 
school, which she did for twenty-two years. 

Deaconess Mary Beth Littlejohn was appointed by the Council to 
replace Mrs. DeForest at Dulac in 1936. With Miss Wilhelmina, they 


80 


were reaching 65 families, a total of 50 people. The work was 
divided into three areas: the church, the school, and the social 
service and rural extension work. The church membership was 50 in 
1936. Worship services, given in French, were conducted once a 
month by a local French preacher. 

After holding services in private homes and outdoors for 
years, Dulac finally received a church, named Clanton Chapel. Mr. 
T.G. Clanton, of Shreveport, provided the funds to build it. 
Bishop Dobbs and others were on hand for the dedication in May. An 
Indian feast was served afterwards. Most members of Clanton's 
Chapel in Dulac would go to church by boat. Services were held at 
2:30 on Sunday afternoon. They had to wait for the arrival of the 
pastor from Houma. For the next few decades, the Dulac church 
would be served by the pastor stationed at Houma Heights in Houma. 
Kirby Verret, a local pastor, is now the pastor of Clanton Chapel. 

The school program is the same as that of public schools. The 
day school for children had an enrollment of 40, and the night 
school for adults had an enrollment of 15. The enrollment was low 
this year because the bridge across Bayou Dulac had been out for a 
year, and the students couldn't get to the school. Afternoons were 
devoted to "extension" type schools for smaller communities down 
the bayous . 

The social work extends to the 360 Indians within a three mile 
radius. They also made occasional visits to families further down 
the bayous. They brought clothes, medical help, and other items. 


By 1938, the day school enrollment at the Dulac Indian Mission 
was up to 60. Day school was held from 7:30 A.M. to 12:30 P.M. 
The night school enrollment was 30. It was held from 6:30 to 8:30 
at night. The church held worship services twice a month, Sunday 
school on Sunday mornings, Bible school on Sunday evenings, and a 
community sing once a month. The social activities included a 
Boys' and Girls' Industrial Club, a Young Folk Club, house-to-house 
visiting, a community library, and a game room. 

In 1942, property (a piece of "Goat Island") was purchased for 
the Dulac Mission to enlarge the work in the area. 

In 1950, a school building was finally constructed in Dulac 
for the Indians. Miss Wilhelmina Hooper now had a school to teach 
in. It has already been mentioned how Miss Ella Hooper came down 
to Dulac to help her sister. Miss lone Gandy, of the MacDonell 
School, also came down to Dulac to help with the new school. 

The Terrebonne Parish school board had finally agreed to build 
a school for the Indians. It was built in the summer of 1953 in 
front of the Methodist school. It had five classrooms and a 
kitchen. Later, in 1954, four more classrooms were added. 

The Methodist school at Dulac was converted into a community 
center. It provided a kindergarten, adult literacy classes, 
religious instruction, dances, motion pictures, visitation, teenage 
and craft programs. 


81 


In 1960, a new Community Center was completed at Dulac. The 
open house was held on September 18, 1960. The director of the 
Community Center at that time was Mr. H. Carl Brunson. A 
dedication service was held. Rev. Rickey gave the invocation. 
Rev. Ira Robinson, pastor of Houma Heights and Dulac, rendered the 
benediction. The sermon was presented by Bishop Aubrey Walton. As 
Bishop Walton said, the Center was designed for "the development of 
Christian character . . . to the broadening of mental horizons and 
the deepening of knowledge, that young and old may be awakened and 

informed." . . irio ,- • +. 
Though the Center was damaged by Hurricane Juan in lyoo, it 

has since been rebuilt. 

After thirty-three years. Miss Wilhelmina Hooper retired from 
the Dulac Indian Mission in 1965. The Woman's Society of Christian 
Service presented her with an honorary life membership. 


82 


Rev. A.D. George: 1936-1938 


Rev. A.D. George was appointed to the Houma charge in 1936. 
He served Houma for two years. The membership of the Houma charge 
was almost 600. There were eight churches in the charge and two 
parsonages. C.J. Thibodeaux was assigned as the supply French 
preacher to the area for the third year. 

During Rev. George's tenure, the rolls were purged. Of the 
656 members, 266 were removed in just one year. The number of 
churches on the Houma circuit decreased to four. 

Rev. George was born at Montpelier, Louisiana on 
September 20, 1887. After he was licensed to preach in 1908, 
he went to Centenary College. After college, he married Susan 
Ruth Hoffpauir. She was remembered as a good Bible teacher. 
The Georges worked together as a team. She always contributed 
her talents to his ministry. They had one son, one daughter, 
and one foster daughter. 

It was said that his congregations never wanted to give 
him up. Rev. George lived a life filled with good works. He 
died in Hattiesburg, Mississippi on July 12, 1974. 

Evangelism meetings were still popular, but their length was 
getting shorter. April of 1937, however, brought an old time 
revival to Houma. It lasted from April 11 to 25. Rev. George said 
that he felt led to have a series of meetings. One of the most 
fruitful parts was the sessions held after each night's meetings. 
The pastor and his helpers would meet with those seeking counsel 
and prayer. In addition to a number of adults, twenty- five young 
people and children accepted Christ during the two weeks. 

Now, let us look at a typical Sunday in the old Red Brick 
Church at this time. The Sunday schedule at this time consisted 
of: Sunday School at 9:30 a.m.; Morning Service at 10:45 a.m.; 
Epworth League at 6:30 p.m.; Evening Service at 7:15 p.m. Prayer 
meeting was held on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. 

The Sunday School started off the morning. Mr. J.H. Thatcher 
or Judge Robert Butler would teach the men's class. When things 
got crowded, they would hold class in the Thatcher Hotel across the 
street. Inside the sanctuary, Kleibert F. Martin would conduct a 
class in French. Rev. Martin, who always wore a hat, was also the 
church janitor and a local pastor. 

One of the early classes that originated in the 1930 's was 
taught by Mrs. Esther Kelly. Raised in Texas, she wanted a Sunday 
School class where you didn't need to understand French. After 
discussing it with Rev. Andrews, the class began meeting in the 
area between the two front steps of the church. Later, as the 
class grew, they met at Wurzlow's Florist behind the church. 
Although the name of the class has changed over the years, it still 
exists as the Wesley Friendship class. 


83 


The children would hold a Sunday School assembly £ ^ the 
central area downstairs. It would consrst r Y 0 ms 

!^a?ed” e t^'sides en of t|e "downstairs leve^ The central area 
rt^toS wTiTThTw^ws' ^n^U^f weL Hememher 

Kelly. Mrs. Thatcher sat behind the piano on the left 

sanctuary. The choir sang from behind the pulpit. B rick 

Old Mr Babin would sit in the last pew of the old Red Brie 

Church. When it got 12 0, ^^J^ n ^^hiS I * * * * * * 8 o<Sd e it. 

?e e hn:rtharth”e in s d ervice louYdTe Tor should he) end^g soon 
Then, when he would leave, he would always say tres bien 

°And Kliebert F. Martin would sit up front. He would always 
shout "Amen” in response to important points in the service. 

One of the fixtures in the days of the Red Church ^s 

thp Thatchers ... Joseph Hunter and Dora. Mr. J.H. Thatcher came 
to the area in 1917 and was instrumental in developing the a 

nas industry He was the first member added to the roll by Rev. 
? i McCov Y He soon became one of the most involved, dedicated, 
and' beloved members of the church. He served as Sunday school 

E ? SSVS»^1S"^ SHe H a sen?Td 

"everything that is clean and virtuous." The Terrebonne Prg gg _sard 
that he was "as near perfection as mortal man could ever expect t 
be " ClMrty it was unfortunate for our church and our community 
?hit be tas taken from us so early. He passed away in 1943. An 
indication of his character was expressed in a poem he 
entitled "My Creed." 


MY CREED 
by J.H. Thatcher 

I thank God I am a Christian, 

Let me live and die that way. 

There is no place like heaven. 

That gives me peace for which I pray. 
It keeps my heart filled with love. 
Burning bright to lead the way; 

Holds me steadfast to my Saviour, 

From which path don't let me stray. 

I thank God I'm a Christian, 

Let me live and die that way. 


84 


Mrs. Dora Thatcher played the piano and organ and directed the 
choir from 1920 to 1950. She was a long-time member of the Women's 
Society of Christian Service. She also served as president of the 
Mission School Board for many years. 

Mrs. Thatcher always wore a hat and directed the choir by 
moving her hat to and fro. The choir wore black robes. The female 
choir members had to remove their jewelry before going into the 
sanctuary. They left the jewelry and their pocket books in a 
locked chest in a Sunday School room downstairs. 

Besides the choir at church, Mrs. Thatcher founded and 
directed the one hundred voice Houma Community Chorus from 1923 to 
1928. She also loved to travel. The social column of the 
newspaper was filled with tales of her travels. 

Before coming to Houma, Mrs. Thatcher was director of music at 
Mansfield College. The Thatchers came to Houma in 1917 when her 
husband Joseph Hunter Thatcher bought the Lirette Gas Field. Mr. 
Thatcher helped to put in the gas distribution system in the town 
of Houma. He also build a hotel on the site of Houma's first 
Methodist church. Mr. Thatcher used to teach the men's Sunday 
School class in the area between the stairs. He passed away in 
1943. 

In 1972, Mrs. Dora Thatcher moved to New York to live with her 
daughter. Three years later she passed away. She is buried here 
in Terrebonne Parish with her husband. 

Mrs. Thatcher is not the only woman to distinguish herself in 
serving the Houma Methodist Church. Other prominent women in the 
first half of the 20th century included Nettie Brunette, Thelma 
Ellender, and Ruth Patterson. 

Miss Brunette was born a Roman Catholic six miles below Houma. 
As a youth, she would attend Catholic Mass and then go to Sunday 
School at the Methodist Church. After three years, she and two of 
her sisters joined the Methodist Church after hearing Rev. 
Breithaupt at a tent meeting. She lived two doors away from the 
parsonage on the property the church had sold in 1921. She worked 
as a cashier for Mr. Thatcher's gas company and as the manager of 
the Thatcher Hotel. Her jobs at church included church treasurer 
(for twenty years), lay delegate to Annual Conference, Sunday 
School teacher, and many more. A charter member of the Women's 
Society, she served as its treasurer for many years. Miss Brunette 
passed away in 1963. 

Thelma Ellender came to Houma from St. Francisville in 1925. 
She married Claude Ellender, a prominent Houma attorney and the 
brother of Senator Allen Ellender, in 1928. Mr. Ellender, 
originally from Bourg, passed away in 1958. Mrs. Ellender has been 
a prominent member of the woman ' s societies of the Houma church 
over the years, serving in various capacities for over fifty years. 
She has also worked with children for many years. The large oak 
tree in the church's playground was named after her. 

Ruth Carlson Patterson was from Fort Worth, Texas. She met 
and married Charles Ray Patterson in the Dallas area. They moved 


85 


to Houma in 1939. Mrs. Patterson was known for her enthusiastic 
piano playing in church and for her work with the youth. Since 
1952 the entire community would look forward to the Christmas 
displays in her yard. Mrs. Patterson passed away in 1982. 


86 


Rev. David F. Tarver: 1938-1941 


Rev. David F. Tarver replaced Rev. George in 1938. He served 
Houma until 1941. Rev. Tarver, though a large man, was very soft- 
spoken. He gained weight while here because he loved the French 
cooking. He wore a frock- tailed coat when he preached. He was a 
sensitive, spiritual man who often used poetry in his sermons. He 
spoke in a down-to-earth language that everyone could understand. 
He also loved nature and used to talk about it in his sermons. It 
seems that he almost always shed tears while giving his sermons. 

His wife, Velma, was the speaker of the family. She was a 
very supportive wife who tirelessly helped with the church. She is 
best remembered as a youth counselor. She would sometimes sing 
solos in church. The Tarvers had no children. 

Rev. Tarver was ordered to report to Washington on December 
29, 1941 for an examination to become a military chaplain. After 
the war, they moved to San Diego. Rev. Tarver went through a rough 
time of it when Mrs. Tarver passed away prematurely. 

The budget for Rev. Tarver's first year was $2355. The 
pastor's salary was about $100 a month. The church's caretaker. 
Rev. Martin, was paid about $10 a month. Money was also allocated 
to pay for heaters and song books bought in 1938. 

It may be that Rev. Tarver was the first Houma preacher to ask 
the members to make a pledge. He sent a very frank letter to 
members not long after he arrived in 1938. The letter described 
how ministers often pay for many church operating expenses out of 
their own pocket. These expenses included an automobile 
($50/month), traveling to conferences ($120/year), adding books to 
his library ($10/month), and appropriate clothing. He noted that 
the pastor in Bogalusa, a town smaller than Houma, made $2400 
annually (much more than the Houma pastor's salary). The 
Conference was still sending money ($50/month) to help the Houma 
church. This meant that the members needed to come up with $60 a 
month to balance the budget. Rev. Tarver suggested that members 
give $3 a week to the church; less than two dozen such donations 
would provide the necessary funds. 

Evidently, the congregation responded to Rev. Tarver. The 
budget and contributions to the conference were paid in full. They 
were also able to fix up and refurbish the parsonage. 

The weekly budget for 1938-1939 of $60.50 included: payment on 
the old debt ($875) on the parsonage - $16.83; the pastor's salary 
(paid each Sunday night at the church by the treasurer) - $30; the 
janitor - $2.50; insurance - $1.00; office supplies, bulletins - 
$1.27; benevolences and district work - $3.00; the presiding elder 
- $3.90; utilities - $2.00. 


87 


In 1939, the Methodist Protestant, the Methodist Episcopal, 
and the Methodist Episcopal, South Churches merged to form the 
Methodist Church. The Houma church had been a member of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Because of the merger and the 
formation of the Houma Heights church, the original Methodist 
church would now be known as the First Methodist Church of Houma. 

The Houma Heights Methodist Church held its official opening 
on Sunday, May 21, 1939. The first pastor, who had already been 
there for a year, was Oakley Lee. Rev. W.G. Cram, D.D. delivered 
the sermon. The area east of the Intracoastal Canal was increasing 
in population. So the Houma Heights Church was built on the 
southern end of the MacDonell campus. Much of the mission work 
down the bayous of Terrebonne Parish would be carried out by 
ministers working out of Houma Heights and/or the MacDonell School. 

Easter Sunrise Services were held at this time at the 
MacDonell School. They were sponsored by the Senior Epworth 
League . 

Vacation Bible School was very popular in 1940. There was an 
attendance of 119 at First Church, even though it had been held for 
less than five years. There were 42 women in the W.S.C.S. Of the 
200 Sunday School members, 140 regularly attended. 

It was 1941 and they were still paying on the Red Brick 
Church. Rev. Martin Hebert urged them to have a drive to pay off 
the remaining $1175 of the debt. The Houma church wrote to the 
Board of Church Extensions for financial help because they could 
only raise one third of that amount. The pastor gives a couple of 
reasons for this. 

There was a division in the church between the members of the 
"old congregation" and the newer members. Neither group felt very 
motivated to pay off the debt. The older members remembered that 
Houma was a mission church and thought that the conference should 
help retire their debt. The newer members did not feel obligated 
to the debt since it was incurred before they arrived. 
Additionally, the expected askings had increased greatly in the 
last two years. But of the membership of approximately 150 
members, only two thirds were active. And of those 100 active 
members, only about one third of them are financially able to help 
the church. 

Somehow, they managed to pay off the debt in 1941. On January 
4, 1942, the twenty year old mortgage was burnt. 


88 


Rev. E.B. Chaney: 1941-1943 

In 1941, Rev. E.B. Chaney was appointed to the Houma church. 
He and his wife arrived with three young children. He was family- 
oriented. His family was from the New England area. He was an 
outgoing and ambitious young man. It was said that he had a 
flambuoyant preaching style. He was also a handsome man; it was 
said that many of the women went to church just to see him preach. 
He was a friendly man; everyone got close to him. He enjoyed 
working with the youth. He preached to the people, and not over 
them. 


The MYF Council met in January to make plans for the year. 
The Methodist Youth Foundation replaced the Epworth League in 1939. 
The second Sunday of each month will be Defense Stamp Sunday. Each 
member will bring a ten cent war stamp (or ten cents to buy one). 
The third Sunday of each month will be recreational Sunday. Each 
Leaguer will bring supper and the group will attend evening worship 
together. Those present at the meeting were Charles Patterson 
(president), Vera Duplantis (vice-president), Marilyn Nicar 
(treasurer), Patsy McNeill (recreational chairman), Bea Picou (co- 
counselor), Mr. C.R. Patterson (publicity director), and Mrs. C.R. 
Patterson (counselor). Rev. E.B. Chaney was also there. 

The oldest church bulletin that we have left is one for April 
6, 1941. The order of worship printed in the bulletin is as 

follows . 

Personal Prayer in this Sanctuary 
Bell Chimes Prelude 

The Congregation Rising as the Choir Enters--All Singing 
Hymn: 2 (Morning) 111 (Evening) 

Apostles' Creed or Affirmations of Faith by All 
Prayer: Pastoral, Congregational, Choral 

Mediation: 126 (Morning) 127 (Evening) 

(Reserved for Christenings, Specials) 

Announcement s 

Congregational Scripture Psalm: 539 (Morning) 540 (Evening) 
The Gloria Patri 
The Offering and Offertory 

The Choral Anthem or Hymn: 145 (Morning) 149 (Evening) 

The Message of the Ministry 

Hymn: 142 (Morning) 140 (Evening) 

(Reserved for the Sacraments of Communion and Baptism 

and for the Reception of Members) 
Benediction: Pastoral, Choral, Congregational 

Postlude Fellowship Greetings 


89 


The announcements in this bulletin illustrate some of the 
events going on at the church at this time. The topic for Sunday s 

"Young Peoples Meeting" was "Getting Ready for Easter le ° Dy 

Annette Bynum. Altar flowers for the month were given by Mrs. 
Elvire Duplantis. A Deep Dish Dinner was to be held on Monday, 
April 7, at 7 p.m. All adult members were invited. Entertainment 
was provided afterwards. A social and business meeting of the 
Women's Sunday School Class was scheduled for Tuesday ^rs. 

Claude Ellender's home. A Sunrise Service was held on Good Friday 
at 5:45 a.m. The W.S.C.S., led by Mrs. H.E. Hendrick, was 
scheduled to study the Christian Mission in China. The Spiritual 
Life Committee had decided to start a library and requested the 
loan of devotional books. This appears to be the first attempt at 

starting a church library . . 

The weekly calendar for the church was as follows. On Sunday 
they held Sunday School (9:30 a.m.). Worship (11 a.m.). Young 

People (6:30 p.m.), and Worship (7:30 p.m.). On Wednesdays , the 
Young People held a meeting at 7 p.m. The Adult Choir met at 7:30 
p.m. on Fridays. The four women's meetings were held on Tuesdays: 
W.S.C.S. business (2 p.m. on the 1st Tuesdays), W.S.C.S. social (3 
p.m. on the 3rd Tuesdays), Sunday School Class (3 p.m. on the 2nd 
Tuesdays), and the Spiritual Life Group (2 p.m. on the 4th 
Tuesdays). 

Though not mentioned in this bulletin. Watch night services 
were held on New Years' Eve. A social would begin at 9:30 p.m. 


The service began at 11:30 p.m. 

The presiding officers of the church were printed on the back 
of the bulletin. The following were the chairman of their 
respective committees: E.K. Bynum (Stewards), C.P. Smith 
(Trustees), Mrs. Claude Ellender (W.S.C.S.), Mrs. David Tarver 
(Spiritual Life), Mrs. H.E. Hendrick (Adult Council), Mrs. M.S. 
Ballwin (Fellowship), Miss Vera Duplantis (Young People), and Miss 
Bea Picou (Publicity). Miss Nettie Brunette was treasurer. K.F. 
Martin was sexton. Miss Helen Smith was the adult choir director. 
Mrs. R.P. Haviland was the editor of the bulletin. Mrs. L.L. 
Gardner was the financial secretary. Mrs. J.H. Thatcher was the 
director of the choir and the church school . The associate choir 
directors were Mrs. T. A. Morris, Mrs. Fred Harter, and H.E. 
Hendrick. 


The Houma Heights church was finally completed in the spring 
of 1942. Dr. Holmes, the district superintendent, preached for the 
opening ceremony, held April 5, 1942. The pastor at that time was 
Rev. M.S. Robertson. 

The December 3, 1942 issue of the New — Orleans — Christian 
Advocate had a picture from the Houma church on its cover. It 
showed a service flag made by the women of the church. A cross of 
stars, with each star representing a serviceman from the 
congregation, was on display. Mrs. Lydia Winders & Mrs. Octavia 
Marcel were also in the picture. This is the only time a picture 
from Houma graced the front page of the Advocate in 90 years. 


90 


On February 18, 1943, Rev. Chaney was assigned to Crawford 
Memorial Methodist Church in New York City. He had asked for the 
transfer, since his family was from that area. He preached for 
three more Sundays. His last sermon, on March 7, was titled "So 
Loved ." He traded places with a preacher from New York. 


91 


Dr. Albert S. Hurley: 1943-1949 


Rev. Chaney's departure in 1943 brought us Dr. Albert S. 
Hurley. Rev. Hurley stayed in Houma for six years. Born in 
Franklin, Texas, in 1907, he went to the University of Texas when 
he was 16 years old. He moved to New York, where he attended Yale, 
Union Theological School, and Columbia University. While preaching 
in a Methodist church in New York, he met his bride-to-be. They 

aot married in 1933. _ , 

Rev. Hurley wanted to return back to Texas. He asked Bishop 

Smith in Houston to find him an appointment. The Bishop told him 
that there was nothing available in Texas, but he could use r. 
Hurley in Houma, Louisiana. So, after preaching in New York ° 
13 years, he moved down to south Louisiana. They arrived on the 
third Sunday in March 1943. 

Rev. Hurley is best remembered as an educated, but endearing 
minister. It seems that everyone liked Rev. Hurley. His sermons 
were always thoughtful and intellectual, sometimes going over the 
heads of many in the congregation. He realized this and toned down 
his sermons after a while. And although his sermons may have been 

long, he always kept your attention. 

Due to a congenital disease, his eyesight had already begun 
failing when he arrived in Houma. But his memory was so good that 
you thought that he was reading from a carefully prepared script. 
When he visited Houma in the 1950 's, he brought his sermon to t e 
pulpit with him. Upon closer inspection, the sermon was nothing 
more than scribbly lines. He was preaching from memory, but he had 
brought his "sermon" to give the impression that he was using a 

^His memory for voices was excellent. He could meet someone 
after several years and recognize them by voice alone. 

Rev. Hurley believed in visiting his congregation. He visited 
every day of the week. He would walk everywhere. Sometimes he 
would set out on foot and his wife would pick him up at the end of 
the day. His wife helped out in many other ways, such as playing 
the piano. She said she also liked the town of Houma; you could 
know just about "everyone" ... it was a friendly town. 


The church tried to help out with the war effort. They worked 
a lot with the Red Cross in knitting sweaters for navy men. They 
also helped the Red Cross to roll bandages. We held food and money 
drives for the war effort. Rev. Hurley said that the community 
seemed to take the war in stride. Mid-week services were also 
better attended during the war. 


Sunday mornings started with Sunday School . The attendance at 
Sunday School was regularly over 150. Rev. Hurley taught the men s 
class at that time, still being held in the Thatcher Hotel. 

The woman's class and French class were still upstairs in the 

church . 


92 


Worship service generally had 60-70 in attendance. Mrs. 
Thatcher played the piano in the morning. Although sometimes Mrs. 
Clyde Martin or Mrs. Patterson would play. When the church’s first 
organ was purchased (by the Hurleys), it was placed on the left, 
and the piano was moved to the right side. 

The MYF was very active. Mrs. Ruth Patterson was the 
counselor at this time. After MYF, the youth would stay for the 
evening service, when the youth choir would perform. Mrs. 
Patterson usually played for the evening service. She loved to 
play songs from the Cokesbury Hymnal . They say enthusiastic 
playing often made the "rafters ring out." The evening services 
typically had over 50 people in attendance. The youth choir alone 
would sometimes consisted of 25 young people. 

Wednesday nights were for youth meetings when Rev. Chaney, who 
was more oriented towards youth, was here. Towards the end of his 
tenure, prayer meetings, led by Nettie Brunette were held on 
Wednesday nights. When Rev. Hurley came, he led the prayer 
meetings . 

Rev. Hurley would also preach at the Gibson church in the 
afternoon on the first Sunday of each month. 

The church was already beginning to talk about a new church 
building. The Red Brick Church was paid off in 1943. Some of the 
older members were not too anxious to get into debt again. Plus, 
World War II forced them to put any such plans on hold. 

The church budget for 1945-46 was $7375. Some of the expenses 
in this budget were: $651 - benevolences, $500 - office supplies, 
$225 - utilities, $2800 pastor's salary. 

When Rev. Hurley arrived back in 1943, First Methodist Church 
had 189 members. The Sunday School had a membership of 255. By 
the time he left in 1949, there were 301 church members. 

After retiring from the pulpit. Rev. and Mrs. Hurley moved to 
Franklin, Louisiana. 


93 


Rev. C. Reginald Hardy: 1949-1951 

In 1949, Rev. Hurley was replaced by Rev. C. Reginald Hardy. 
Rev. Hardy stayed in Houma for only two years. He was a large man 
who seemed very reserved and formal. It seems that Rev. Hara Y 
didn't put too much preparation into his sermons. He seemed to 
look down upon the rural folk. He wasn't the most popular of 
preachers; people found it hard to get close to him. He was the 
last of the fire and brimstone type of minister. He was also the 
last minister to wear a frock tail coat. A while after he left us, 

he moved on to the Texas Conference. 

Not all of the preachers that served the area were popular. 
Some, like Rev. Hardy, just didn't quite fit in. It wasn't that 
they were poor preachers. Preachers and congregations sometimes 
just didn't go well together. It would be extremely rare to find 
a pastor that everyone liked. One preacher we had did not stay 
with us long; but soon after, he found another appointment that 
kept him for ten years. Then again, there are those people like 
Miss Nettie Brunette. Rev. Rickey said that "she is loyal to each 
pastor, and welcomes the next one as if the Lord sent him. 
Ideally, that is how we all should look at our pastors. 

As the church grew, more space was needed. A quanset hut was 
placed on the side of the church after World War II. It was used 
for Sunday School classes and for the youth meetings. It was also 
used for square dancing. It would have been unthinkable to have 
dancing inside the church building. Some members still objected to 
the dancing in the hut. 

The Houma Heights minister (Rev. Mitchell Sanford) was now 
serving four other preaching locations down the bayous. The Houma 
Heights Church was located just south of the MacDonell School and 
included the staff and pupils in its ministry. 

Houma Heights was left to be supplied for 1950. Rev. A.D. 
Martin was appointed as a local preacher in Houma. The membership 
at First Methodist Church of Houma was 403. Gibson is listed as 
having one member. Houma Heights is listed as having 41 members; 
but there were 195 inactive members of that church! Other local 
churches included Bayou Blue (99 members), Dulac (104 members), 
Lockport (38 members), and Pointe aux Chene (39 members). 


94 


Dr. Sam Nader: 1951-1956 


The year 1951 brought a new preacher. Dr. Sam Nader. The 
congregation had sent word to the bishop that we needed a leader. 
So they sent Rev. Nader, who had participated in building programs 
in all of his pastorates. He was what you would call today a 
"mover and a shaker." He brought out the best in people. Rev. 
Nader was the driving force behind the new church building. They 
even had to tear down the walls of the Sunday School rooms to make 
room for tables for the building drive dinners. Rev. Nader really 
knew how to raise money. He even got people outside of the church 
to contribute . . . merchants and businessmen from other 
denominations. He didn't always preach about money; but outside of 
the sanctuary, he knew how to raise it. 

Rev. Nader was born in Beirut, Lebanon. He was the son of a 
Greek Orthodox priest. Upon moving to America, he grew up in 
Shreveport, where he received a local preacher's license at age 15. 
While he was pastoring in Houma, the congregation paid to send him 
to Lebanon to see his father for the first time. When he came 
back, he put on a slide show of his trip for family night. 

Rev. Nader took a personal interest in people's lives. He had 
a way of making you like him. He always wore a smile. If you 
weren't at church, he'd call on you that afternoon. Although he 
was always working, he always had time to talk to you. He enjoyed 
working with the youth. He would keep tabs on the members who were 
away at college. 

He often ended up finishing the Sunday bulletin on Saturday 
night. He hired the first church secretary, Velma Hebert, who had 
been working at the MacDonell home. 

Rev. Nader drove an old Chrysler that wasn't in the best of 
shape. So the church got together and bought him a new 
car. Rev. Nader's wife, Esma, though always with her kids, was 
always there to help out. 

His preaching style was enthusiastically accepted. He brought 
the gospel down to your level. His sermons were down to earth ... 
to the point. After hearing him preach, you felt challenged. Rev. 
Nader was fond of preaching on Paul. He also liked to interject 
common items into the Biblical setting . . . "Paul picked up his 
Parker 51 fountain pen and wrote ..." 

During Rev. Nader's tenure, one of our own members decided to 
enter the ministry. Lionel Marcel went on to become a Methodist 
minister in the Louisiana Conference. He attributes at least part 
of his decision on Rev. Nader's influence. Rev. Nader would let 
Lionel preach on Sunday nights when he was in town. The pastor at 
Houma Heights would also invite Lionel over to preach. The church 
family was also supportive. There were a number of times when Mrs. 
Patterson would place a $100 bill into Lionel's hands to help him 
out with expenses. Rev. Marcel is still serving in the Louisiana 
Conference. 


95 


The Board of Stewards appointed a planning committee to 
consider the construction of a new church building. The Red Brie 
Church was overflowing. When it was built, an average .service 
contained 75 members and the Sunday School attendance was about 5 . 
The church now had about 500 members with an average Sunday School 

attendance^ o^ wa£ , tQ select the site for the new church. One 

of the first sites they looked at was on West Main, where a large 
grocery store now stands. Instead, they picked a site on Little 
Bayou Black Drive. More property at the West Main . lo °ation Lf JJ 
have been bought for the same money, but the neighborhood was 
prettier and more serene on Little Bayou Black. In 8 , 

Berger brothers built Crescent Plantation on Little Bayou Black 
Drive. The property was later sold. But Henry Berger bought back 
a portion of the plantation that included the house in 1932. The 
plantation had been divided and was now called the Crescent Par 
Addition. Berger sold part of the property to his daughter, Minty 
Toups and to Frank Peavey. Judge Ashby Pettigrew owned the 
western half of the block. A month before he died, Henry Ber 9 e J 
sold an option (for $1000) to sell the rest of the P^°perty he had 
bought in 1932 to the First Methodist Church. On the last day 

of 1951 a site committee purchased the property for $21,000 from 
the heirs of Henry Berger, who had passed away the previous month. 
The Crescent Plantation home was dismantled and used y • • 
Patterson to build a home for his son. The front door of the 
Plantation home stood approximately where the door of the Fmancia 

Secre t ary^s^o f f ice ^ ^ ^ the Y Met hodists had raised $119,000 towards 

the new church. A special service was held on November 9. Five 
laypersons spoke on various aspects of the building drive. After 
the service, a dinner on the grounds of the proposed new church was 

held for one hundred and fifty persons. 

A lot (and house) located behind the church was purchased in 
1953 from Robert H. Reeves to be used for a parsonage. Henry 
Berqer sold the lot (lot #6, located on the northeast corner of 
block 29) to Frank Peavy, who in turn sold it to Robert H. Reeves 
in 1945. The old parsonage on 814 High St. was sold to the Houma 
Oil Company for $12,500 on November 3, 1953. 

The year 1951 brought a note of sadness to the First Methodist 
Church. Miss Bea Picou, a faithful member, was killed in an 
airplane crash in Liberia, Africa in 1951. She was a stewardess. 
For years afterward. Miss Brunette gave out the Bea Picou Award to 
a Senior youth who exhibited "faithfulness, eagerness to help, 
attendance, and other qualities." Bea was Miss Brunette s niece. 

Just a year after Bea Picou was killed, the church was shocked 
when Mr. C.R. "Pat" Patterson had a heart attack and passed away on 
December 15, 1952. Mr. Patterson, born in 1902, had come to Houma 
from Texas in 1939. He was an active civic leader who had built up 
several businesses in town. He had been named Terrebonne s Citizen 
of the Year in 1949. A strong supporter of the church, he would be 
deeply missed by the church family and the community. The Sunday 


96 


School class that met in the Fellowship Hall . . . the Patterson 
Memorial Class ... named itself after Mr. Patterson. 

The congregation was anxious to build the new church. A 
brochure printed in 1953 stated that the church would be built that 
year. It contained architectural plans and illustrations of the 
proposed church. As the brochure shows, the first plans were 
basically the same as the finished church, although there were a 
few changes that were made. People were encouraged to pay for a 
part of the church as a memorial, which would be honored with an 
engraved plaque. These plaques can still be seen. The cost for 
some of these memorials were as follows. 


Sanctuary 

$75,000 

Choir Room 

$ 1,500 

Foyer 

5,000 

Pastor's Office 

1,500 

Chancel 

10,000 

Tower /Steeple 

10,000 

Portico 

5,000 

General Office 

1,000 

Crib Room 

1,000 

A/C and Heating 

15,000 

Nursery 

2,000 

Education Bldg. 

50,000 

Classrooms 

2,000 

Fellowship Hall 

20,000 

Kitchen 

5,000 

Parlor 

3,000 

Parsonage 

20,000 

Bell Tower Room 

1,500 

Pulpit 

750 

Sanctuary Window 

1,500 

Altar 

750 

Baptismal Fount 

750 

In an August 

, 1954 

bulletin, several comments on 


church were printed. Mrs. R.B. Edmonson said, "I think the 
building program is wonderful!" Hayes Marcel said, " Our new 
buildings are needed badly for all of us. The building program is 
planned to meet the needs of our Church now and in the future." 
George Augustat stated that, "We are now in one of the largest 
endeavors that First Church has ever undertaken, that of building 
a new church. ... I am sure with our spiritual attitude and divine 
guidance we will pass our goal." 

The general campaign was led by J.W. Bolton and D.W. Rhea. 
The entire congregation was divided into groups and committees to 
reach their goal . 

The Red Brick Church was sold on November 8, 1955 to the 
Terrebonne Parish Police Jury for $50,000. The money was spent on 
the new church. 

The last services in the Red Brick Church were evening 
services held on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday on the last week 
of March. The last sermon delivered in the Red Brick Church on 
Friday was on "The Seven Last Words". 


97 


CHAPTER 6 


THE CATHEDRAL ON THE BAYOU 


The formal opening service of the new church took place at 11 
a.m. on April 1, 1956 ... which was Easter Sunday. The bulletin 
included a three page history of the Houma church, the order of 
worship, the contributors of the various memorials, and 
miscellaneous notes. Speakers that day included Rev. Sam Nader, 
Dr. R.R. Branton (Lafayette District Superintendent), Dr. Edward W. 
Harris (Baton Rouge District Superintendent), and Bishop Paul E. 
Martin. Dr. Albert Hurley and Rev. Franklin McCoy, former pastors 

of the church, were also there. 

In the guest book. Bishop Martin wrote that this church was 
made possible by "inspired leadership and the cooperation of 
dovoted and consecrated church members . " Rev . Branton wrote that 
it was "a great day in the life of this church." Rev. Harris wrote 
that it was "a labour of love - complete in every detail - truly 

glorifying the name of God." . 

The new church seated 465 people; 340 in the sanctuary, 88 in 
the balcony, and 37 in the choir. The sanctuary ceiling reaches 36 
feet into the air. The walls are of St. Joe sand brick made in 
Slidell . The pews and other furniture in the sanctuary are made of 
white Appalachian oak. The Fellowship Hall can seat 240 for a 
meeting and 170 for a banquet. The copper steeple reaches a height 
of 105 feet. A statue of Christ, titled "Come Unto Me" is above 
the front doors. The statue was made in Dallas especially for this 
church. Some members of the church didn't like the idea of having 
the statue, but Rev. Nader talked them into it. A round stained 
glass window above the altar depicts Christ in prayer. This window 
and the ten large (24 feet tall) windows along the sides of the 
church were ordered from Judson Studios in California. The brass 
and aluminum cross above the altar was made in Dallas. The altar 
is made of Italian marble. The educational building has ten 
classrooms that can accomodate 450 students. It is made of 
Colonial sand mould brick, trimmed with buff Indiana limestone. 
The style of the church is a blend of Colonial and Georgian. The 
architect was J. Murrell Bennett of Dallas, Texas. The projected 
cost of the new church was originally $250,000. It eventually cost 
about $400,000 ... $323,000 for the building and the rest for 

furnishings. . . , 

An Open House was held later that day from 3 to 5 in the 
afternoon and 8 to 10 that night. A Vesper Communion Service was 
held at 7 that evening. 

It was announced that the church would try to pay off the 
bills in three years. "Debt free by '59" was the motto. Although 
the intentions were good, it would take them nine years to actually 
pay off the debt. 


98 


The completion of the church meant the departure of Rev. 
Nader. He left after accomplishing a great deal. He came here to 
get a job done, and he did it. But when he left, he passed down a 
bundle of bills to his successor. Rev. Nader and his wife 
recently retired and live in Lubbock, Texas. 


Dr. Benedict Galloway: 1956-1960 


The bishop replaced Rev. Nader in 1956 with Rev. Benedict 
Galloway. Rev. Nader had gotten the church built and left for Lake 
Charles. Now Rev. Galloway would have to make sure it was paid 
for. Following a popular preacher is always rough. Rev. Galloway 
may have felt pressured to follow in Sam Nader's footsteps. As his 
wife, Eloise, told him ... he should just be himself, don't try to 
be Sam. Rev. Galloway was more formal and serious than Rev. Nader, 
though he had his lighter side. He even taught square dancing at 
the church, much to the dismay of some of the older members. 
Though he wasn ' t as outgoing as Nader and it took a lot to make him 
laugh, everyone seemed to like Rev. Galloway and his wife. He was 
also an educated man who was very methodical. His sermons had that 
intellectual edge that Rev. Hurley had brought to Houma; and 
sometimes they ran a bit long. As one member. Duck Marcel, would 
say ... he delivered the "full load" on some days. Some still 
remember the food fundraisers held by the women in the church. 
Like Rev. Tarver, it seems that Rev. Galloway was fond of our 
French cooking and put on a few pounds. He also liked to play 
golf. 

Rev. Galloway was married in 1941 to Eloise Holt. They have 
two daughters. Eloise was our first preacher's wife to have a 
college degree, having received a bachelors degree in social 
studies at NSU in 1955. She helped Benedict in his pastorates by 
teaching Sunday School, working as youth counselor, working with 
the women's societies, and doing all of the other tasks a 
minister's wife is supposed to do. They now live in Shreveport, 
Louisiana. 

At each of his first three pastorates. Rev. Galloway was 
involved in building new sanctuaries and educational buildings. 
Upon arriving in Houma, he found the building done, but the bills 
unpaid. 

When Rev. Galloway arrived, he had to immediately come up with 
$50,000 to pay a past due bank note. The contractor and church 
builder had gone bankrupt. Besides this, money was needed for the 
next note and to maintain regular church operations. Aided by the 
laity. Rev. Galloway got it done. Fortunately, this was in the 
dawn of the oil age and money was flowing. In his first year, the 
chimes were bought, the sanctuary carpeting was laid down, and the 
parsonage was renovated. The membership of the church went from 
710 to 809 during Rev. Galloway's tenure. The Sunday School 
increased from 367 to 680 by 1960. The typical attendance at the 
morning services was about 150 for the first service and 130 for 
the second service. The evening service also averaged about 150. 
Sunday School attendance was a little over 300. 

To illustrate the church finances at that time, the church 
budget for 1957-58 was $72,565. The budget had increased ten-fold 
over the budget of ten years ago. Of course, over $35,000 went to 


100 


pay off the building and furniture notes. The pastor's salary had 
risen to $8,100. The conference askings were now close to $5,000. 
The staff had increased to include a secretary ($2,100), janitors 
($3,220), and choir directors ($440). 

Annual Spiritual Life Missions were held. These were revivals 
that brought in preachers from elsewhere in the state to lead 
services from Sunday through Friday. Morning devotions were 
broadcast on KCIL. Vacation Bible School was still being held. 
Bible studies were held on Wednesday nights. 

Family Nights were held on Friday nights. Members would get 
together for a meal and entertainment. This practice was revived 
under the pastorship of Rev. Bowdon years later. 

The youth choir was named the Herald Choir. One of the 
directors of the choir at this time was Gayle Hanna. 

Mrs. Patterson gave the Patterson Memorial Class a set of the 
Interpreter's Bible reference books. They can still be found in 
the church library. 

Among the church organists from the 50 ' s to the 60 ' s were Mrs. 
Patterson, Mrs. Clyde Martin, Mrs. Norman Smith, Mrs. Albert Lloyd, 
Miss Evelyn Martin, Mrs. T.H. Richards, Miss Gayle Hanna, Miss 
Julia Anding, Richard Whitten, and Allie Goodson. Among the choir 
directors were H.F. Lane, Mrs. J.L. Davis, Miss Jacquelyn Cocke, 
Mrs. H.B. Watson, Jr., Mrs. M.H. Rigsby, and Mrs. W.M. Carnicom. 


A letter sent out informing the congregation of Pledge Sunday 
noted that an important consideration for the next year will be an 
Educational Director. The matter had been brought up for several 
years, but no action had been taken as of yet. It would be over 
thirty years before our church would get an Educational Director. 

A Dedication Service for the church memorials was held on 
April 24, 1960. Some of the memorials listed were as follows. 


Fellowship Hall 

by 

Steeple 

by 

Balcony 

by 

Parlor 

by 

Arcade 

by 

Rose Window 

by 

Altar 

by 

Pulpit 

by 

Christ Statuary 

by 

Foyer 

by 

Portico 

by 

Offering Plates 
& Candleabras 

by 


Mr. /Mrs. Charles Patterson, Sr. 

Mr. /Mrs. Charles Patterson, Sr. 

the George Augustat Family 

Mr. /Mrs. Wade W. Scott 

the C.E. Bridges Family 

the Brunette Family in memory of 

Mr. /Mrs. C.A. Brunette 

George K. Ferguson in memory of 

Charles Patterson, Sr. 

Helen Smith in memory of 
Mr. /Mrs. C.P. Smith 
Mr. R.B. Edmonson in honor of 
his wife 

the Thatcher Family in memory of 
the late J.H. Thatcher, Sr. 
the Marcel Family in memory of 
the late Mr. /Mrs. Freddie Marcel 
Friends in memory of the late 
Charles Patterson, Sr. 


101 


Dr. Henry A. Rickey: 1960-1963 

Rev. Galloway was replaced by Rev. Henry A. Rickey in I960. 
They actually "switched" places. Rev. Galloway became the District 
Superintendent of the New Orleans District, which had been 

previously held by Rev. Rickey. 

Rev. Rickey was born in Jacksonville, Alabama on February 
18 1908. His father, a couple of uncles, and a great- 
grandfather were all Methodist ministers. The Methodis 

Church was in his blood. , ^ , 

He was an intelligent man . . . "one of the brightest minds 
in the conference" some would say. He was an incisive man of 

keen convictions. ^ . Q 1Q oa 

Rev. Rickey married Nell Honeycutt on June 18, iyj4. 

They had two children. Rev. Rickey and his wife enjoyed 
socializing, but she never seemed to fit in as the preacher s 
wife She was completely different than her predecessor, 
Eloise Galloway. Nell was known as a fragile woman. She was 
a red head who used to be a dancer. She stood by her husband, 
but never really got involved in church activities. This 
perhaps caused some animosity with the old members of t e 
church. Traditionally, the preacher's wife had always helped 

with the church activities. , . . . . . 

He served around the state, but spent a good bit of 
ministry in the New Orleans area. He retired in 1975 and 
moved to Shreveport. He was killed in an automobile accident 
on November 6, 1976 as he was on his way to get plants for his 
garden. 

Rev. Rickey had a tendency to add people to the rolls a fter 
iust one visit with them. He didn't do much visiting himself; that 
was left for Larry Robertson to do. He put a lot of members on t e 

° He was often commenting on how ugly he was. He claimed to be 
a member of the Ugly Club. Rev. Rickey loved to sing. He would 
even have songs pasted in the hymnal if he wanted to sing them and 

they weren T "t in the hymnal . _ , . 

He was honored in 1961 when Centenary College presented him 

with a Doctor of Divinity degree. . . _ 

Rev. Rickey didn't have a good relationship with the Pastor- 

Parish Relations committee. In fact, his departure was a for ^® 
one. He fell into the same category as did Rev. Hardy ... the 
pastor and the congregation weren't a good combination. 

Houma got its first associate pastor in 1961. Rev. Larry D. 
Robertson served Houma for two years under Rev. Rickey and one year 
under Rev. Douglas. "Little Larry," as some called him, came here 
right out of seminary. His two children were born here in Houma. 


102 


Some days you could walk into his office and his baby would be 
sitting in the desk drawer. He worked with the youth and visited 
people in their homes. He would usually preach the Sunday night 
services . 

A typical Sunday evening at this time included Senior MYF 
Council at 4 p.m., MYF at 5:30 p.m., youth choir rehearsal at 6:30 
p.m., and evening worship at 7 p.m. The evening worship consisted 
of four hymns, a prayer, offeratory, an anthem, and a sermon by 
Rev. Robertson. It ended with altar prayer. 

The membership of First Church of Houma for the past year was 
938. The average attendance was 310. There were 15 tithers in the 
church. We still owed $48,650 on the church. There were still two 
morning services. The Herald Choir sang at the first service and 
the Chancel Choir sang at the second. W.S.C.S. Circles at this 
time included: Goodwill, Mary-Martha, Fidelity, Liberty, and 
Friendship. The MYF was divided into three sections, Jr., 
Intermediate, and Sr. In January 1961, church membership was 
divided into neighborhood zones. Family night dinners were held. 

A "Battle of the Bayou" was held in 1961. Rev. Rickey said he 
could win 100 new members during the year and challenged the 
church's Commission of Membership and Evangelism to do likewise. 

Revivals were still being held all around the conference. 
Bishop Walton had led one at our church in 1961. Dr. Rickey led 
a revival in Natchioches in 1963. 

One was conducted at Houma from March 31 through April 5 of 
1963, with a prayer vigil held March 29-30. Services were led by 
Rev. C.W. Quaid of Lake Charles. Mrs. Patterson played the organ 
and Dr. Rickey led the singing. A different group from the church 
was to fill the pews each night. 

The membership at Houma Heights in 1960 was 135. Rev. Ira M. 
Robinson left and was replaced by Rev. Collins D. Pinkard. Bayou 
Blue had 134 members and Dulac had 126 members. 

Charles Crenshaw graduated from Terrebonne High at this time 
and planned to become a Methodist minister. He gave a sermon in 
April before leaving for Centenary College. 

We were still holding quarterly conferences at this time. The 
spring conference for 1963 was conducted by the District 
Superintendent, Rev. Jerome Cain. He also preached the message. 


103 


Dr. Luman Douglas: 1963-1966 

Rev. Luman Douglas replaced Rev. Rickey in 1963. Although his 
eyes were failing, people remember that he preached a good message 
and delivered it well. He didn't really want to come here, though. 
He was very business-like, but he had nervous problems. He 

couldn't relate to the board members. Still, members remember how 
he used to pass out sticks of gum to the children. He was also the 
one that came up with the idea of a "flower calender to help Mrs. 
Kelly to arrange the flowers on the altar. . 

Donald Autrey came to Houma as an associate pastor while Rev. 
Douglas was here. Like Robertson, he came here right out of 
seminary. It seems that the relationship between him and Rev. 
Douglas didn't work out. He stayed here only one year. 

Rev. Luman E. Douglas was born in Bienville, Louisiana on 
May 11, 1910. He was licensed to preach in 1926. While 

attending SMU, he met and married Mary Eleanor Kiker on 

Decemer 28, 1932. He came back to Louisiana in 1935. He 

served in southern Louisiana. 

He was honored with a Doctor of Divinity Degree from his 

Alma Mater, Taylor University, in 1965. 

Rev. Douglas loved the Methodist Church. He brought 
integrity and dedication to his work. It was said that 
whatever he did, he did well. He served in a number of 
positions in various branches of the church. When he had 
retired and his sight was failing, he could recognize his 
"brethren" by the sound of their voice. 

Rev. Douglas passed away on September 12, 1985. 


A dedication service was held at 11 a.m. on November 28, 1965. 
Among those in the service were Bishop Aubrey G. Walton, Rev. Luman 
E. Douglas, Rev. Jerome Cain, Dr. B. Joseph Martin, Dr. Henry . 
Rickey, and Dr. Benedict A. Galloway. The congregation was able to 
sit on pew cushions. These had been bought with money from a fund 
started by the late J.F. Lane and the Pattersons. A catered dinner 
on the grounds followed the service. It was paid for by members of 
the church. The mortgage for the "new" church was finally paid off 
and the mortgage was burnt on November 28, 1965. 

The average attendance at morning worship services was 347 in 
1965. Of the 533 on the Sunday School rolls, 314 was the average 
attendance . 


104 


Rev. A. Jerome Cain: 1966-1976 


Rev. A. Jerome Cain was appointed to Houma in 1966. He was 
assisted in his ministry by his wife, Elsie. The Cains' ministry 
was really a team effort. Rev. Cain, like Rev. Rickey, joked about 
being a member of the Ugly Club. He got along with most people. 
Rev. Cain started the church's ecumenical push. He also started 
the work towards the Activity Building. The first church bus was 
acquired at this time. Rev. Cain was selected as Houma's Most 
Useful Citizen in 1974, our only pastor to receive this honor. 

The church borrowed $8,500 in 1966 to pave the church parking 
lot and to build a garage for the parsonage. The church note had 
just been paid off the previous year. 

About the same time, the church was saddened to lose Calvin 
Hebert, Jr. He died after injuries received in a helicopter crash 
during the Vietnam War. Calvin was the only member of our church 
to die in the Vietnam War. 

In November of 1967, a group of older adults met to form a 
senior citizens' club. About 20 people attended that first 
meeting. After a contest, the name picked by Mrs. Ida Andruss was 
selected . . . Was Young Once ( WYO ) . When she was working on a 
household task, she had been said to herself, "I used to be able to 
do this. I was young once." So the name of the group was born. 
One of the other names submitted was "The Antiques." 

In 1969, the Wesley Methodist Church on Canal Street was 
forced to tear down the church building. It had stood on the 
corner since 1889, but had deteriorated through the years. 
Hurricane Betsy finally created some unrepairable damages. Since 
there were only 32 members in 1969, the Rev. Henry Gage asked for 
help in building a new church. The new church, costing $20,000, 
was built with money raised by the congregation as well as 
contributions from other Methodist churches. First Church of Houma 
gave over $1000. Two years later, the Negro and white conferences 
of the United Methodist Church of Louisiana approved of a merger. 

A called charge conference was held after the 11:00 service on 
November 16, 1969. The decision was made to buy the remainder of 
the eastern portion of block 29. Mrs. Minty Toups had obtained the 
property between the church and parsonage from her father, Henry 
Berger. She was paid $25,000 for the lot and the house. The house 
was used for Sunday School classes for a while, but was moved so 
that the area could be used for parking. Her garage was converted 
into a meeting room for the youth. It was called the Youth Hut. 

The property was bought with the intention of building an 
activity building. Several versions of the building were 
considered, though most were similar. It was to consist of a large 


105 


gym, several meeting rooms, and a kitchen. Mrs. Cain ^ s a st ^ ® 
supporter of this building, although some members objected to a 
maior building project. After all, the church note was paid off 
Tess than five years before and the parking lot/garage note was 
paid off earlier in 1969. 

Ricky Hebert graduated from Centenary College in 1969. During 
the summers in 1968 and 1969, he helped out as a summer worker at 
church. He later became an ordained Methodist minister in t 
Louisiana Conference. 

By 1970 the church membership was 1171 people. There was an 
average attendance of 256 at Sunday School out of a membership of 
440. The 11:00 Services were being broadcast over the radio on 

KJIN occasionally. _ 

Youth began attending Camp Brewer during the summer. They 

would attend for a week with youth from other Louisiana Methodist 
churches. Later on, the youth began going to Caney Lake in north 
Louisiana for the summer trip. At Caney Lake, the ent irecam P^® 
rented for our youth group. When Rev. Cain left, these trips 

stopped^ the merger in 1968> the w.S.C.S. became the United 

Methodist Women in 1973. 

One of the biggest youth trips ever taken was when the Senior 
High UMY went to Singing River Ranch in Colorado. Six adults 
including the Cains, and thirty-one youth made the trip in 0 
Blue." Old Blue was bought for $350 and made many trips during its 
"lifetime." After travelling for over 3,000 miles, the group made 
it safely home from Colorado. 

The church had a scare shortly after, when Rev. Cain was 
hospitalized. Rev. Hurley filled in for him in our pulpit. 
Thankfully, Rev. Cain made a full recovery and was preaching again 
after about ten weeks. 

During Rev. Cain's tenure, we had several ministers who came 
to help out ... usually in the summer. In 1975, for example, John 
Clarke was our minister in training for the summer. He w °uld 
preach at the evening services. Another "summer minister was John 

Williams. 


106 


Rev. Hugh Baker: 1976-1978 


Rev. Cain was followed in 1976 by Rev. Hugh Baker. It seems 
as though Rev. Baker met with the same problem that several other 
ministers had faced . . . following a popular pastor. He arrived 
here late due to illness. He was a charasmatic preacher. While 
here, the major project in the church was the construction of the 
Activities Building. Though Mrs. Baker suffered through health 
problems during their stay here, she liked to help out with the 
women ' s pro j ects . 

The bishop. Finis A. Crutchfield, and D.S., Kenneth McDowell, 
held service at the Gibson church at 8 a.m. on Sunday, January 11, 
1976, to commemorate the early Methodists who built the church in 
1849. Services are still held on the first and third Sundays of 
the month. The building is opened with the original key. You may 
want to look at the hymnals, Bibles, and Sunday School books which 
date back to the 1800's. You can look for a hole in the floor that 
was drilled to help water drain out in 1882 when the building 
flooded. The pews are the original set. The kerosene lamps were 
converted to electricity some years ago. 

The Youth Hut was torn down in the summer of 1977. The 
Activity Center was completed in 1978 at a cost of a quarter of a 
million dollars. Besides the gym area, there was a kitchen, 
women's room. Boy Scout room, and a chapel. The chapel was 
dedicated to Hayes Marcel, Sr., who had passed away the previous 
November. The stained glass cross in the chapel can be seen from 
Boston Lane. It was made by Hartwell Lewis. 

A youth directer. Butch Kent, was hired while Rev. Baker was 
here. The youth began their annual chicken barbeque to raise funds 
for a summer trip. The first trip funded by the Senior High BBQ 
was to Disneyworld in August, 1977. In 1978, they went to 
Arkansas. Mr. Kent left us in 1978, since we were now getting two 
pastors . 

A preschool was begun at this time, also. Martha South was 
the director. The church secretary was Pat Fanguy. 


107 


Rev. John Winn & Rev. Carole Cotton-Winn: 1978-1988 

Houma got its first man and wife team as ministers in 1978. 
Rev. John M. Winn, Jr. and Rev. Carole Cotton-Winn were appointed 
to the Houma charge. They prepared for their sermons and took the 
worship hour seriously. They really opened up the church to the 
community. 

Carole Cotton-Winn was born in Rayville, Louisiana. John grew 
up near New Orleans. Both of them received their theological 
education from Perkins School of Theology in Dallas. John has four 
children from his first marriage. One of these, his daughter Carol 
Susan Winn, became a Methodist minister. 

Under the leadership of Jack McNamara, who had been a long- 
time director of the youth choir, the youth presented the musical 
"Alleluia." They would present an encore of the musical a couple 
of years later. 

It was a busy year for our church in 1980. The Koinonia 
Circle, a ladies' group, began meeting in April, 1980. New pew 
Bibles were purchased and dedicated on July 27, 1980. Our "summer 
minister" was Ron Dauphin. The Senior High made a summer trip to 
Disneyworld, while the Junior High went to Panama City (Noah s 

Ark ) . . 

A clown ministry was begun under the leadership of the Junior 
High counselors, John and Carol Millwater. They were honored by 
the state in 1980. They later became involved in helping out the 
Special Olympics. 

Our old organ had just about had it. An organ committee was 
formed, headed by Pat Porter. After deciding that a pipe organ was 
too expensive, they decided on an Allen Digital Computer Organ 
(cost about $25,000). 

First Church of Houma held its first Ecumenical songfest in 
1980 to a packed sanctuary. Choirs from the surrounding community 
were invited to join our own choir in a Sunday night presentation. 


The pews were sent to be refinished in August of 1981. The 
refinishing company sent us chairs to use while the pews were being 
worked on. While the pews were out, new carpeting was laid and the 
sanctuary was painted. The pews were reinstalled by the end of 
October. Later, in 1982, the stained glass windows were repaired 
and covered with Lexan to protect them. 

The new Bayou Blue United Methodist Church was consecrated on 
July 5, 1981. This church, which was formerly named Lagrange 
United Methodist Church, has moved to a different location and 
erected a sanctuary and educational building at the new site. 


108 


Some of the Senior High youth, led by Russell Elliott and our 
"summer minister" Keith, attended an Appalachian Service Project in 
1982. 

The end of 1982 brough us a mystery. A number of items began 
disappearing. It was discovered that someone had stolen a set of 
church keys. He was making himself at home in the church ... 
eating out of the kitchen, showering in the bathroom, stealing 
items to sell. He was living in an old car on the Pettigrew 
property next door. He was finally caught and the mystery was 
solved. 

Many activities were planned for 1984, the 200th anniversary 
of Methodism in America. The biggest by far was Wesley Fest. It 
was a festival that offered food, crafts, and entertainment. Over 
1,000 tickets were sold. The event was repeated as Wesley Fest II 
in 1985. It would be several years before the church would try 
another festival-type event. 

Another member of the First United Methodist Church of Houma 
decided to enter the ministry at this time. Steve Porter graduated 
from Asbury and became an ordained minister in the United Methodist 
Church. He has served appointments in northern Louisiana. 

Mrs. Pettigrew, who lived next door to the church, was not 
fond of the Methodists. The singing and chimes seemed to irritate 
her. In her later years, she moved off of the property to be cared 
for and the house was left in disrepair. When she passed away in 
the mid 1980's, Judge Pettigrew wanted to sell the property. 
Hartwell Lewis, Russell Elliott, and John Winn approached Judge 
Pettigrew. The judge wanted $490,000 for the property, though the 
land was appraised for only $230,000. The judge kept calling until 

one day when Hartwell Lewis offered him $250,000 if he accepted 

by nightfall. He did. The deal was closed by July 1, 1987. 

The church was still unsure about taking such a big step. 
They were given until January 1, 1988 to make a decision. At a 
board meeting, Audrey Marcel stood and said that they should pray 
on this decision. Everyone stood up and held hands. This broke 
the ice and the decision was eventually approved. The church came 
up with the $100,000 by the deadline. It was something that the 
church really couldn’t afford ... but they really couldn't afford 
not to. The immediate need for parking space was apparent. And 
the church may someday need the area for expansion. Mr. Lewis put 
in $23,000 on the parking lot. He sold the property to the church 
for $230,000 ... the appraised value. 

The old Pettigrew house was torn down by the men of the 
church. While doing so, they found that there were some graves 
under the house. Evidently they had been buried their when the 
property was part of Crescent Plantation. 


109 


Rev . J . Henry Bowdon , Jr . 

Rev J. Henry Bowdon, Jr. was appointed to Houma in 1988. He 
had scent the previous five years in Lake Charles, where the 
Bowdons had bought a house. He was moved to Houma to take over 

where "the Winns left; off. 

Rev. Bowdon was born on April 21, 1927 in Jackson 

Louisiana. His father was Dr. J. Henry Bowdon, S ., 
prominent Methodist minister in the Louisiana Conference. In 
1950 he married Virginia Kirkland. They had three sons and 
one daughter. Rev. Bowdon began his ministry as an associa e 
pSsto? in Lake Charles in 1952. Much of his mxnrstry was 
spent in southern and central Louisiana. 

Rev. Bowdon was known for his building projects a y 

of his pastorates. He was very active in the Boy s £outs. He 
received the Eagle Rank while at the Lake Charles churc . 
served in a number of positions on various boards in the 
conference. He has also served on many community associations 
where he was serving. 

In 1988 a group of church members traveled to a church growth 
seminar at Frasfr Methodist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Thrs 
the beginning of a number of changes. In September 1989, the 
sSIvIcS schedule was changed for the first time in over 30 years. 
Instead of having Sunday School in between the two morning 
services classes would be held at the same time as worship 

services' with a fellowship time in between. Reasons for this move 
included increasing attendance and increasing s P a °e f ° r A 
School classes. A Children's Church was also begun in the Activity 
Center .° An upstairs area was enclosed to form a room to hold 
services . Also, a church library was reestablished in the 

Activities Building. 

During Rev. Bowdon 's time here, two men decided to enter the 
ministry. Jim Lowe (who moved to Tennessee) and Walter Parker (who 
moved to Texas) began attending seminary and preaching. 

In January 1992, Rev. Bowdon surprised the congregation by 
announcing tha? he «. going to retire. He would have liked t 
nrpach f or a while longer, but he grew weary of the conflicts 
involved in this pastorate. He "retired" to Lake Charles, where he 
has two new jobs keeping him occupied. 


110 


Dr. Alan Dee Einsel 


Dr. Alan Dee Einsel came to Houma in 1992. He was quite 
familiar with the church. In 1969, he married Barbara Cain (Jerome 
and Elsie Cain's daughter) in the Houma church. He had met her 
while they were both attending the Saint Paul School of Theology in 
Kansas City. Originally from Kansas, Rev. Einsel transferred to 
the Louisiana Conference in 1976. 

Rev. Einsel was born on February 5, 1939. After getting 
his Bachelor's degree in business, he joined the Navy. Then 
he met his future wife, Barbara, while attending Saint Paul 
Seminary. Barbara would later become a Diaconal Minister of 
Education. Rev. Einsel later received a Doctor of Ministry 
degree from Drew University. They were married in 1969 at the 
First United Methodist Church of Houma. The Einsels have two 
children, David and Sandy. 

Barbara Einsel came to the church not only as the preacher ' s 
wife, but also as the Christian Education Director. She is a 
Diaconal minister in the Methodist Church. After talking about it 
for years, the church finally managed a way to hire an education 
director. The plans for the church in 1952 had one of the rooms 
labeled as the Christian Education Director's office. Over the 
years, the possibility of hiring one had been brought up several 
times. The goal was finally reached in 1992. Barbara is even 
using the same office labeled for the C.E.D. in the 1952 plans. 

Since the change in the worship schedule, the attendance of 
the second service had been declining. The Evangelism committee 
brought this to the attention of the Worship committee. After an 
extensive study, it was determined that the schedule change had not 
accomplished its desired goals. When the congregation was 
surveyed, it was found that they preferred the "old" schedule. In 
October of 1992, the church returned to the schedule where the 
Sunday School took place between the worship services. Children's 
Church was retained, however, with some adjustments. 

With the arrival of the Einsels came the first Festival Under 
the Oaks. Held in the fall, this annual event provides fun and 
fellowship for our church and the community. It involved games for 
the kids, musical entertainment, an art show, and plenty of food. 


With the coming of the 150th anniversary of Methodism in our 
area, plans were made for a celebration. The bishop and former 
pastors were invited to a special celebration held on May 15, 1994. 
The history book was distributed and articles were placed in the 
newspaper. After 150 years, Methodism is alive and well in Houma 
and Terrebonne parish. 


Ill 

















TERREBONNE PARISH, LOUISIANA 



The Original Houma Methodist Church 



R.J. Harp's C hurch Journal 

’his is the only record written 
>f the Houma and Thibodaux area 
from the 1800 's. 




This 1855 map of Houma shows the Methodist Church on 
the corner of Court and Goode Streets. Built about 
10 years earlier, it would occupy this corner until 
the property was sold in 1888. 




1 



The church and cemetery at Gibson, La. 
Built in 1849, it is one of the oldest 
surviving Methodist churches in Louisiana. 





Interior of the Gibson Church 



Courtesy Dillard University 

THE MISSISSIPPI MISSION CONFERENCE 

Organized Christmas Day 1865 , Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church , New Orleans, Louisiana 


Mississippi Mission Conference: top row , left to right: William 
Murrell , J. M . Bryant ; Emperor Williams , S. M. Small , Henry Green , J. Good - 
wyn, Hardy Ryan , Anthony Ross, Scott Chinn, David Ennis, Samuel Osborne, 
Thomas Kennedy; bottom row, left to right: H. G. Jackson, R. K, Diossy , J. P. 
Newman, Bishop E. Thomson, N. L. Brakeman, and W . M . Henry. 



The steamer Terrebonne travels down the 
Barataria Canal, which was located be- 
tween Barataria and Canal Streets. The 
church steeple at the left is the Wesley 
Methodist Church that was torn down in 
1969. 



This section of map 
shows the Wesley 
Methodist Church as 
it appeared in the 
early 1900's. 


18th CENTURY PASTORS 
who served in this area 


1885 MAP of HOUMA 



Philo M. Goodwyn 
1843, 1867-68 



Stephen J. Davies 
1844 



Philip Dieffenworth Lewis A. Reed 
1846 1849-56, 1876-78 


Robert J. Harp 
1852-54 


Jeptha Landrum 
1857 





You can see the Houma church with its 



1 

i 

v 


E« 

to Tt 

<□ c 

* ii 

1 sort 

*■4 

!• Tr 




W 



j 


H*U|( 

J ult| 

XltAlM 

« 

Ta»n.N 

F=3 


14 

\n § - 

. 


ft 


• 

i 

Bl 








James M. Henry 
1889 


R.R.R. Alexander James L. Wright 
1862-63 1870 


Joshua Scurlock 
1884-85 



C.V. Breithaupt 
1909-1916 



J.W. Booth 
1932-1936 



Reginald Hardy 
1949-1951 



Luman Douglas 
1963-1966 



John Winn 
1978-1988 



Martin Hebert 
1916 


G.A. Morgan 
1916-1917 


F.J. McCoy 
1917-1927 



B.H. Andrews 
1927-1932 





A.D. George 
1936-1938 


David Tarver 
1938-1941 



E.B. Chaney Albert Hurley 
1941-1943 1943-1949 





Sam Nader 
1951-1956 



Benedict 

Galloway 

1956-1960 



Donald Autrey 
Asst. Pastor 
1963-1964 



Henry Bowdon 
1988-1992 



Jerome Cain 
1966-1976 



Alan Einsel 
1992-present 




Henry Rickey 
1960-1964 


Larry Robertson 
Asst. Pastor 
1961-1963 



Hugh Baker Carole 

1976-1978 Cotton-Winn 


1978-1988 


20th CENTURY PASTORS 
of the 

First United Methodist Church 
of Houma, Louisiana 














Some early services were 
held in the Opera House 
after they stopped using 
the Hook and Ladder Hall. 


Services were held in a third 
floor room at this location 
on Main. Street before the 
Masson House was bought. 


This is the Masson House, also 
called the Little Green Church 
or the Tabernacle. It was 
bought in 1914 and used as a 
church until 1921, when it was 
torn down and the Red Brick 
Church was erected. 



The original Houma Methodist 
Church was located where this 
house stands. 


. / 

| 

1 1 
/f/i. . 

• j 

i 

i 

hl_ 

i 


When the Houma Methodist 
Church was "reborn” in 1909, 
the first services were held 
in the Hook and Ladder Hall. 



7fO 


// 

i / 



7 « 




/ 

jf. 




Jf* 


u 




EDrafTT 


7T/S 


Z3 d 


r; — * 


B 

□ 


Pi 


8 



/• * 

/ 

1 

• 

• 

if. | 


• , 

, 

• 








a 


FIT? 


f/i j 

L ' 


- 


1907 MAP of HOUMA 


ROUSSEL 





The LITTLE GREEN CHURCH or The TABERNACLE 

This home was used as the Houma Methodist Church (Mission Hall) from 
1914 to 1921. Located on the southeast corner of Goode and School 
Streets, it was torn down in 1921 and the Red Brick Church was built 
on the site. 



The OPERA HOUSE 


Mardi Gras in the 1920 's 



This building had a variety 
of uses. It was used to 
hold Methodist worship 
services before 1914. 


Looking eastward down Main Street, 
you can see the Opera House on the 
left. Services were also held 
further down the street. 




These women from the Houma Methodist Church can be seen standing on 
Houma's dirt-covered Main Street. They are standing in front of the 
building in which they held worship services at that time (1913). 



Leaders of the MacDonell School 
in the 1920's. 

Left to Right: Effie Fauver, lone 
Gandy, Ella Hooper, Mr. Stout, 
Lois Hammett, Laura White 



Miss Ella K. Hooper 

The driving force behind 
the Wesley House and the 
MacDonell School. 




WESLEY HOUSE, the centerpiece of the MacDonell School 



Teachers in training at the Bayou Blue (Bourg) Methodist 
Church. Rev. A.D. Martin can be seen in the doorway. 





CLANTON CHAPEL 


Dulac, Louisiana 




Several prominent Methodist leaders in our area can be found 
in this picture. Miss Hooper and Rev. A.D. Martin are in the 
middle of the back row. Rev. McCoy is at the right (turned up 
collar, black tie). Rev. LaGrange is on the far right. 


L 




RED BRICK CHURCH 

This was the home of the Houma Methodist Church from 1922 to 
1956. This structure is used by the parish government today. 
The sanctuary was on the second floor. Sunday School was held 
downstairs. 



Here is the youth choir, led by Ruth Patterson, in the 1940's. 
The flag above them is the service flag, with each star rep- 
resenting someone from the congregation in the armed forces. 





The gang gets ready to 
go on a picnic in 1925. 
You can see the old Ter- 
rebonne High School on 
the right. 



k 


MBi 


■am 


■BHMH 



METHODIST MEN - 1952 



Ella Hooper (middle) and A.D. Martin (on her left) holding a 
meeting below Dulac in 1912. 


T 



1 




C.P. Smith 


Robert Butler 



Joseph Pullen 


J.H. Hunter 



k 




Sunday School at the Red Brick Church 


By the late 1940's, the Red Brick Church was busting at the seams. 
A Quonset hut was placed next door to make room for more classes. 




E.K. Bynum, C.R. Patterson, G.P. Smith, and J.H. Thatcher burn the 
mortgage note of the Red Brick Church on January 4, 1942. 



At a dedication service in 1965, the mortgage for the "Cathedral on 
the Bayou" is burned. Left to right: Seymour Dalsheimer, M.L. 
Funderburk, Rev. Jerome Cain, Bishop Aubrey G. Walton, Rev. Luman 
Douglas, Ruth Patterson, Luther Kelly, and Edward Gaidry. 


^ i 









Rev. B.H. Andrews and his 
family relax at the 
MacDonell School 



Clerville Thibodeaux . . . one 
of the ministers to come out 
of the French Mission area. 



Dr. B. Joseph Martin Pastors who came f rom 


our area. 



Barbara Cain 
Educ. Director 





HOUMA HEIGHTS 
METHODIST CHURCH 


This map shows the layout 
of the MacDonell School 
and the Houma Heights 
Methodist Church in 1941. 









. 




1941 map that shows the Cres- 
cent Plantation, the Pettigrew 
home, and the Reeves home. 



Crescent Plantation 
Torn down so that 
the church could be 
built in 1956. 



The property bought by the 
Houma Methodist Church in 
1909 consisted of blocks 1, 
2 , 3 , and 4 . The parsonage 
was on lot 4 . 



814 High St. — Our parsonage for over 40 years 





Groundbreaking for the "Cathedral on the Bayou" 
Jim Bolton (hand on sign). Rev. Sam Nader (dark 
suit), and Rev. R.R. Branton (light suit). 



The Duck Marcel family and others picnic on the 
site that would later become the Fellowship Hall. 



Members of the building committee look over plans 
for the new church with the architect. 



An early sketch of the blueprint for the new church 
Though most of it is the same, see if you can find 
out what was changed. 


r 



■ v; 


k*-A;T 




The church steeple being completed 
in 1955. It stands 107 feet tall. 



Christmas at the First United 
Methodist Church of Houma, La. 






The Fishermen’s Club ... 1962 



Youth Choir 


1963 


. ■ 


r 



Breaking ground for the Dulac Community Center. Holding the 
shovel is Nettie Brunette. Next to her is Rev. Galloway and 
Ruth Patterson. 



Miss Wilhemina Hooper with some Rev. Jerome Cain, Dr. B. Joseph 

of the Dulac Indian children. Martin, and Rev. Luman Douglas 


in the mid-1960's 





A group of young people join the church in 1969. 



The Patterson Class in the 1960 's 




r 



The Senior Highs take a trip to Colorado in the 
early 1970's. The chaperones were Mike Rigsby, 
Dr. & Mrs. Walther, and Rev. Jerome & Elsie Cain. 


Camp Brewer ... 1972 
John Williams, one 
our summer ministers, 
seated in the middle. 


of 

is 





"Old Blue" - The first 
church bus. There were 
two more that followed 
it. Currently, the 
church only has a van. 


The UMY puts on a live 
nativity 1979. 






The Winns conduct an Administrative 
Board Meeting in the early 1980's. 


The Winns welcome a new class of 
members into the church. 


Rev. Baker oversees the opening of 
the Activities Building in 1978. 




Hartwell Lewis supervises as Roy Baker clears 
away the Pettigrew house. 



Rev. Einsel and the choir celebrate 
the new green choir robes in 1993. 



The Wesley Friendship Class, taught by Ruth Weaver, 
meets in the parlor. It was formed over 50 years ago. 



Director Ken Klaus and the Chancel Choir perform at 
the Ecumenical Songfest. Dr. Hideo Koike annually 
coordinates this community-wide event. 



Some of our clowns that participate in a Clowning Minis- 
try. It was begun by John & Carol Millwater in the 1980's. 



Rev. Alan Einsel officiates as the patio garden is 
dedicated to Rev. Jerome & Elsie Cain in 1993. 



■HHraHHnnm 




L